Sunday, March 27, 2011

I won!!

(This post has nothing at all to do with cooking...I'm just excited and figured this was a better place to share than my weight loss blog.)

The husband is out with some friends tonight, and I spent a chunk of the evening giving myself a facial and watching a few episodes of "Sex and the City." I was about to head up to bed but decided to check my dashboard here really quick to see if there were any interesting blog updates today.

There was a great one--I won a giveaway!!

Last night I was scouring the internet for decorating ideas for my kids' playroom. Please don't judge...I used to have a very exciting social life before I had kids. ;) Anyway, in all my Googling I came across an amazing blog that I'm now borderline obsessed with, Design Dazzle. It's all ideas for decorating baby, kid, and teen rooms and spaces. How cool is that?! Some friends on my message board suggested I do something with wall decals for decorations, and lo and behold Toni at Design and Dazzle was having a giveaway for a gift certificate to a wall decal online store, Say It On The Wall. I'm a lucky winner of a $40 gift certificate! Honestly I figured there'd be no way I'd win because I knew I'd be one of the last entrants since I think the giveaway ended last night about an hour after I came across it. I can't wait to pick out what I want to get. I looked on there a little last night and saw some really cute things. The prices were really reasonable, too, so I should be able to get a few things.

Check out Design Dazzle...there are some great ideas on there, as well as pictures of some rooms that are just amazing and completely unreal!

Design Dazzle

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tiramisu Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Wow are things dusty around here from lack of use! I can't believe it's been so long since I updated my blog. Although, in my quest to use up the massive amount of items I had in my freezers, I wasn't making a whole lot of new stuff. And we were on vacation for a week. While we were on vacation--hobnobbing with Mickey Mouse and playing at the beach--I realized how much I miss my blog and need to get back in the groove of updating and trying new recipes. I miss my cookbook project, too.

I was just going through pictures on my computer to move stuff to my "cooking blog" pictures folder and saw the pictures of this amazing cake. I'm embarrassed to say that it was the middle of February when I made it, but I just never got around to posting it. Actually I've posted it before, but this time I remembered to take pictures as I was going. Two of my friends and I decided awhile back to do a supper club. This was back in November I think. We tried to plan it for December, but it fell through. i don't remember if we tried for January. It was originally going to be husbands and kids, too, but my husband didn't really want to go and it turned out another husband was out of town, so we decided to just have it be the girls. I was glad it worked out that way, it was so fun! It was at my friend Jenn's house, and she made a delicious roasted chicken with green beans and amazing fingerling potatoes. Oh my gosh, the potatoes! They were so tasty. Jen brought a really good feta dip as an appetizer, and I was in charge of dessert. I really had no idea what to take, and then I remembered this dessert. It's so rich and decadent and time-consuming, but I love it and wanted an excuse to make it.

Tiramisu Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
5 large eggs
1 1/3 cups whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour 2 9-inch round cake pans. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in another large bowl to blend. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in cream and vanilla. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture. Divide batter equally among pans. Bake until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool completely.

Frosting / Filling
3 1/2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
2 1/3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup chilled whipping cream
1 1/4 tablespoons vanilla extract

Using electric mixer beat cream cheese in large bowl until light. Gradually add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add cream and vanilla and beat until well blended. Cover refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Soaking Syrup
1 1/3 cups Kahlúa or other coffee liqueur
1/2 cups water
1/8 cup instant espresso powder or coffee powder


4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 9-inch-diameter cardboard cake round
2 cups assorted berries (such as raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries)

Finely grind chopped chocolate in processor (do not over process or chocolate will clump together). After cakes have cooled completely, take about half a cup of frosting and spread it on a cardboard round or what ever you will be placing the cake on.

Cut the cakes in half horizontally. Place bottom of one cake on cardboard round, cut side up. Brush with 1/3 of syrup. Spread out about 1 cup of frosting and then sprinkle with 1/3 of the chocolate. Place top of cake on top - repeat syrup, frosting, chocolate. Place bottom of 2nd cake on top, cut side up - repeat with the remains of the syrup, 1 cup of frosting and remains of the chocolate.

Now, to tidy it up - take a serrated knife and cut around the cake to make it even all around, this made it very easy to frost the cake.

Frost the entire outside of cake. Decorate with berries, icing or chocolate.

This cake is best when allowed to sit for a day or so.


I'm currently doing Phase One of the South Beach Diet again and just thinking about this cake is adding pounds back on to my body, I'm pretty sure. It's really, really, really time consuming, but it's so worth it. Be very generous when using the soaking syrup. The cake is really dense, so you want to use as much of the syrup as you can so it soaks through and makes the cake layers moist and flavorful. And definitely let it sit as long as possible so the cake has more time to absorb the syrup.

This is hands down one of my favorite cakes ever.

Cake batter...I told you it's a dense cake!

Layer of cake with syrup...really brush it on there!

Syrup with chopped chocolate in the background

Mmmmm...cream cheese frosting...

Cake in progress

Frosting cakes is not one of my strong suits, but I'm okay with it since I rarely do it. It tasted awesome, and that's what really counts.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Turkey Tetrazzini

Many, many years ago I bought a special edition of Cooking Light. On the front of the magazine it says "Display until December 31, 2003." There's a recipe in it for Chicken Tetrazzini that always looked good to me, but for whatever reason I never made it. I remember at one point I was going to make it for a friend after she had a baby, but then I think she ended up having to be admitted to the hospital again, so I never took them dinner. A few weeks ago I cooked a whole turkey because it was taking up a lot of space in my freezer, and I remembered this recipe. I figured I'd switch the chicken to turkey and use up some of the meat I had left. Win win!

Chicken Tetrazzini
Source: Cooking Light

1 tablespoon butter
Cooking spray
1 cup finely chopped onion
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 (8-ounce) packages presliced mushrooms
1/2 cup dry sherry
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 (14.5-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
7 cups hot cooked vermicelli (about 1 pound uncooked pasta)
4 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 (1-ounce) slice white bread

Preheat oven to 350°.

Melt butter in large stockpot coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, pepper, salt, and mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add sherry; cook 1 minute.

Lightly spoon flour into a measuring cup; level with a knife. Gradually add flour to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly (mixture will be thick) with a whisk. Gradually add broth, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

Add 1 3/4 cups Parmesan cheese and cream cheese, stirring with a whisk until cream cheese melts. Add the pasta and chicken, and stir until blended. Divide the pasta mixture between 2 (8-inch-square) baking dishes coated with cooking spray.

Place bread in food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs form. Combine breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese; sprinkle evenly over pasta mixture.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove casserole from oven; let stand 15 minutes.

To freeze unbaked casserole: Prepare through Step 5. Cool completely in refrigerator. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing to remove as much air as possible. Wrap with heavy-duty foil. Store in freezer for up to 2 months.

To prepare frozen unbaked casserole: Thaw casserole completely in refrigerator (about 24 hours). Preheat oven to 350º. Remove foil; reserve foil. Remove plastic wrap; discard wrap. Cover casserole with reserved foil; bake at 350º for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 1 hour or until golden and bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes.


I originally planned this on a night that I was taking dinner to someone from church, but then I found out she's diabetic, so I wasn't sure if this would be the best dish for her to have. i didn't want to come up with something new, so I figured I'd go ahead and still make it for us and take her something different. At first I was going to cut it in half instead of freezing a casserole, so I only got two packages of mushrooms, but then I figured I might as well make it as written and have one in the freezer. I stuck with the reduced amount of mushrooms. My kids aren't big mushroom fans anyway, so it kind of worked out okay. Oh, and instead of making bread crumbs for the top I used some panko I already had on hand.

I was worried it was going to be too bland when I tasted it once everything was mixed together, but I needed to be leaving to take dinner, so I didn't have time to play around with it. It was definitely on the bland side, so with the one I was putting in the freezer I took it out of the casserole dish and added some Lawry's Seasoned Salt to it. I think I've gotten lazy lately because that's my go to seasoning when I think a dish is lacking flavor. It's just easier to throw some of that in there than try and figure out what it really needs.

This is definitely something I'd make again, and it's extra nice that it makes two (or I suppose you could do it all in one bigger pan) because now I have a go to dinner in the freezer when I need something fast.

Almond Fried Chicken

Don't you hate when you get a hankering for something that there's no possible way you can obtain? Growing up, we'd get Chinese take out from a restaurant called Ming Tree. And we'd always get the same thing--some kind of family meal that came with all sorts of yummy awesomeness. One of the items was Almond Fried Chicken and it had this really yummy gravy/sauce that went on it. I have never found it anywhere else. My mom is in Seattle right now for a sewing expo she flies up for every year, and she's found a place near the expo that has it on the menu. I was very jealous when she was talking recently about having it while she was there, so I did some Googling. I found recipe that sounded similar, but I didn't like the heavy breading and frying. I'm not good at frying food. I've accepted that and am fine with it, but I try to avoid it because of my lack of frying skill and health reasons. So I set about to make a healthier version that didn't include frying the chicken. The recipe below is what I came up with.

Claire's Almond Fried Chicken

2 whole skinless chicken breasts, boned and cut in half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dry sherry
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
Cooking spray

4 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
3 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine first three ingredients. Let marinate for 15 minutes.

In a shallow dish or pie plate, lightly beat eggs and add 1 Tbsp water. Place the flour in a separate shallow dish or pie plate, and place the panko in a third dish. Dredge the chicken pieces in flour, then dip in egg wash, then breadcrumbs, turning to coat each time. Place chicken pieces on a cooling rack that's been placed on a baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes. Turn chicken, spray again with cooking spray, and bake another 10 minutes or until juices run clear.

Prepare sauce: In a small saucepan, stir together cornstarch and water until smooth. Gradually stir in chicken broth, butter, soy sauce and bouillon granules. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Let boil 1 minute. Keep warm.

When ready to serve, sprinkle chicken with almonds and green onion. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve immediately.


I used chicken tender for mine, so I guessed at the cooking time. I was pretty skeptical of how this was going to be, especially the gravy, but it's something I really miss having, so I figured it was worth a shot. My family really liked it. The husband absolutely loved it. I thought it was pretty good, but the gravy definitely wasn't the same. The husband said it was probably because I didn't add MSG to mine like the Chinese restaurant most likely did. I'm sure he's right. It was a good "fix" for the original until I can find it somewhere and dissect the sauce to figure out what's in it exactly. It is something I'll make again because it did go over well and with my modifications it was pretty healthy.

Sorry, I forgot to take a picture.