Sunday, November 15, 2009

National Bundt Day

Today is National Bundt Cake Day!  To celebrate, I thought I'd share one I made a while back, for my boyfriend's birthday last summer.

Bundt cakes are by far my favorite.  It could be because I grew up in the Midwest, and they're the standard cake made by Midwestern women.  It could also be because I like things to look pretty, but not be too complicated.  With their fluted edges and interesting shape, Bundt pans make everything look decorative - but they're still just simple pans, no filling or springforms necessary.  Bundt cakes are also just MADE for cake-takers, don't you think?

For this cake, I used the Betty Crocker recipe for Silver White Cake (direct from the cookbook - you can find it here), and mixed 3 tbsp cocoa and 1/8 tsp baking soda into part of the batter to make a marble cake.  I think marble cakes are terrific - they look fancy and don't require much extra work. 

For the frosting, I used the Betty Crocker recipe for Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (found here) - BEST FROSTING EVER!  I just added in crushed chocolate to both the cake and the frosting - I've used either mini chocolate chips, or a crushed chocolate bar, both with great results.

In the pan, before baking:

After baking - you can barely tell it's a marble cake from this angle!

After frosting - doesn't it look kinda vintage?

There you have it!  Happy National Bundt Day :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Veggie Shepherd's Pie

I rarely make meat dishes, since I live alone and they require so much time (and money!).  I also try to limit my meat consumption in general, since it's the eco-friendly (and animal-friendly) thing to do.  Sometimes, though, I'm in the mood for comfort food - and a lot of comfort food is meat-based.  What's a girl to do when she craves something warm and hearty, but there's no meat in the freezer?

Enter Veggie Shepherd's Pie.  For me, it was a dish inspired by what was around the house....but it's totally flexible, and can incorporate anything you have in the pantry or freezer.  I had a sweet potato that was a bit past it's prime, a bag of frozen mixed veggies, and a Gardenburger.  You may have a regular old Idaho potato, corn on the cob, and some ground turkey instead - but go without fear, for the recipe will accommodate you!

(excuse the terrible picture - apartment lighting late at night doesn't make for a good shot!)

Veggie Shepherd's Pie

1 sweet potato, peeled & cubed
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp butter or Smart Balance
1/2 cup mixed vegetables
1 Gardenburger (Boca crumbles or ground meat of any sort work)
salt & pepper to taste, plus cayenne or garlic if you'd like

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Place peeled, cubed sweet potato into a pot filled with cold water.  Bring water to a boil, and boil until the potato cubes fall off the fork when you pierce them.  Drain, and put potatoes into a mixing bowl with milk and Smart Balance.  Mix with hand mixer on low speed, or with potato masher or fork, until you have mashed sweet potatoes of your desired consistency.  Set aside.

Heat mixed vegetables in microwave as directed on package, and cook Gardenburger in skillet as directed.  Crumble Gardenburger, and mix in vegetables.

Fill two ramekins halfway with mixed vegetable/Gardenburger mixture.  Top with mashed sweet potatoes.

Place ramekins into oven and bake for 20 minutes, until potato starts to brown on top.  Allow to cool a bit, then serve!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My favorite breakfast

Every weekday morning when I get up, the first thing I think about is breakfast.  I know some people skip breakfast and some people just have coffee, but I MUST have food to start the day.  And according to several studies, breakfast is the most important I think I'm healthier this way :)

I used to mix up my breakfasts every morning, but lately I've been sticking to the same general thing each day.  Oat bran is my go-to meal because it's packed with fiber, protein, and iron (all very important for a woman in her 20s!) - and also because it's low in fat and relatively low in calories.  1/3 cup of Trader Joe's oat bran has 130 calories and 3 g of fat....about even with a bowl of low-sugar cereal with milk.  If I add in extra protein and vitamins by mixing in fruit and peanut butter or almond butter, I've got a meal that's totally balanced, and also incredibly delicious!  One bowl, which with mix-ins is around 280 calories, keeps me full from breakfast (around 7 am) until lunch time (around noon), so I keep myself from snacking all morning long - that way, I save my snack for the 3pm slump :)

To keep my breakfasts a little varied, I change up the mix-ins for my oat bran all the time.  My absolute favorite so far is white peaches and blueberries with almond butter.....but since both of those fruits are out of season now, I'm sticking with apples or pears these days.  Today's bowl was one of my best....pears, pomegranate seeds, and almond butter.  I hope you try'll love it, I promise!

Oat Bran with Pears, Pomegranate Seeds, and Almond Butter

1/3 cup Trader Joes oat bran
1 cup water
1 pear, cut into bite-size cubes
2 tbsp pomegranate seeds  (I removed all seeds from a pomegranate and stored in the refrigerator)
1 tbsp Trader Joes creamy, unsalted almond butter

On stove top, heat up oat bran and water.  Start with burner on high until the oat bran starts to bubble, then turn down to medium-low and stir frequently until the oat bran reaches your desired consistency.  While oat bran is cooking, core and slice a pear.  Add oat bran, pear, and pomegranate seeds to a bowl, and top with a little bit of almond butter.  Mix, then enjoy!

I leave you with a picture of Mimu, enjoying the sunshine!  Hope your weather is as nice as mine today :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Back on the wagon...and lasagna rolls!

So I admit, I clearly fell off the wagon on this one.  Life gets REALLY busy in bursts during grad school (as it does for everyone, really), and things just got too hectic.  I'm going to try to update whenever I can, and hopefully anyone who enjoys the blog will just stick with me through the thin patches :)

With colder temps coming upon us here in Philly, I've been craving warm comfort food.  This recipe for Lasagna Rolls, from Giada DeLaurentis, certainly hits the spot.  I used skim milk instead of whole milk, and left out the prosciutto (seriously, what single person has prosciutto lying around the house?).....and the rest of the ingredients are all relatively normal!

(sorry for the kinda lousy pictures....for some reason the shots without the flash weren't working!)

These were warm, cheesy, and actually pretty healthy (spinach + lowfat ricotta and milk = pretty good for you!).  Next time I might add something else.....maybe for fall, a little pumpkin in with the cheese?  Definitely YUM, especially with some extra nutmeg :)

I really liked that with this, you end up with portion-able food.  I ate three....but the others were saved individually in the freezer, so that I can take one out at a time if I want to eat them with something else.  That way, I can enjoy the deliciousness of this dinner food, but in a lunch portion - and if I mix it with a side salad or something, it'll be plenty filling.

The best part is, most of the ingredients are pretty shelf-stable, and can be easily modified.  With the leftover noodles and cheese, I could make a more traditional lasagna......or just break up all the noodles and mix them with sauce and cheese later for a quick dinner.  And the rest of the spinach I can save for another meal, or use in a smoothie a different time!