Friday, April 5, 2013

Chocolate Truffle Cake With Strawberries and Ganache

We all like strawberries, right? Well, most of us. And most of us like chocolate. If you want a wonderfully easy, absolutely rich chocolately dessert covered with strawberries – this is it. You can make this in no time – it takes more time to chill than it does to actually assemble everything. You can make the ganache at the same time so it can cool also.

The cake is smooth and about as chocolate as you can get. Then layer on some strawberries and pour over a rich chocolate ganache.  You don’t need a giant piece of this – a sliver will do because it’s so rich. Or many slivers.

Chocolate Truffle Cake With Strawberries and Ganache
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 25 min + chilling time + assembly
Cook Time: 30 min

8 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
4 large eggs, well beaten

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 8-inch springform pan liberally with cooking spray.
Melt butter in a medium-sized glass bowl in the microwave (about 1 to 2 minutes). Add the chocolate and microwave for 30 more seconds. 

Let sit for about 3 or 4 minutes, then add the sugar and stir until blended. 

When cool, stir in the beaten eggs. 

Pour batter into prepared pan 

and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until a crust forms on top. Cool to room temperature; then refrigerate overnight in pan.

Run a knife around the edge of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. I left the cake on the pan bottom – if you put it on a pretty plate, no one will ever notice.

1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. semisweet chocolate – cut in chunks or chips

Bring the cream to a boil in a saucepan. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Shake the bowl just a bit to make sure the cream covers the chocolate. Let sit 2 minutes. 

Stir in a gentle figure 8. 

Don’t whip or stir vigorously. Stir about 2 minutes until the chocolate is thoroughly incorporated. 

Refrigerate and let cool about an hour.

You can do this however you want. You may need to slightly heat the ganache so it spreads and pours well – just until it’s barely warm. I spread on a thin layer of ganache, then a layer of sliced strawberries,

 then a layer of ganache, then another layer of strawberries. 

Then I poured ganache over the whole shebang. 

Garnish with more strawberries and whipped cream. The whipped cream will cut some of the richness of the chocolate.

Yeah, baby!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Herbed Greek Chicken Salad

I am a sucker for salad, especially in the spring and summer when fresh veggies are so available. This salad is quick, easy, and so delicious! You can get tahini (which is sesame-seed paste) in most grocery stores – it gives the dressing an interesting twist with lots of flavor. Have the dressing made and the vegetables cut up before you cut and cook the chicken. It goes so fast!

Herbed Greek Chicken Salad
Serve with toasted pita wedges.
Cooking Light

1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
Cooking spray
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
5 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, divided
1 cup plain fat-free yogurt
2 teaspoons tahini (sesame-seed paste)
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 cup peeled chopped English cucumber
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
6 pitted kalamata olives, halved
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled feta cheese

Combine oregano, garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl. 

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken 

and spice mixture; sauté 2 minutes over medium-high heat, without stirring. Turn meat over with a spatula and cook another 2 minutes without stirring. Stir briefly and cook another 2 minutes until chicken is done. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon juice; stir. Remove from pan.

Combine remaining 2 teaspoons juice, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, yogurt, tahini, and garlic in a small bowl; stir well. 

Combine lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, and olives. 

Place 2 1/2 cups of lettuce mixture on each of 4 plates. Top each serving with 1/2 cup chicken mixture and 1 tablespoon cheese. Drizzle each serving with 3 tablespoons yogurt mixture.

This is wonderful in the summer when you don't want to heat up your kitchen when cooking dinner! Enjoy!

Chicken and Couscous with Artichokes, Feta, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I had never used pearled couscous before (I really like to type the word, “couscous”) and it was delicious! Cooked fast, and tastier than plain rice. This is quick, yummy, healthy and just generally fun to eat!

Chicken and Couscous with Artichokes, Feta, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Though grains of Israeli or pearled couscous are larger than those in Moroccan couscous, they still cook faster than rice or pasta.

Cooking Light
About 4 servings

2 1/3 cups water, divided
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can vegetable broth
1 3/4 cups uncooked Israeli or pearl couscous (I just used the whole box and followed the measurements on the box for the liquid)
3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (I grilled one for 8 minutes on each side)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I used curly leaf parsley and I definitely think the flat-leaf would be better)
2 (6-ounce) jars marinated artichoke hearts, undrained
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine 2 cups water and tomatoes in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at high 3 minutes or until water boils; cover and let stand 10 minutes or until soft. 

Drain and chop; set aside.
Place 1/3 cup water and vegetable broth in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Stir in couscous. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat; stir in tomatoes and remaining ingredients.

Just sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper and grill 8 minutes on each side. Then chop in bite size pieces.

Couscous couscous couscous couscous. There. That was fun. Try it some time. And try this sometime! So good!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rigatoni with Green Olive-Almond Pesto and Asiago Cheese

Okay, I’m going to ‘fess up. I don’t like olives – never have. So when I saw this recipe, I immediately said to myself – no way. But, I’ve got to grow up sometime and try new things. I tried this and it’s SO delicious! Really! I got some organic green olives stuffed with garlic and this was fabulous. I probably won’t eat olives by themselves quite yet, but I will definitely make this again. Oh, and did I say this is extremely fast and easy? It is.

Rigatoni with Green Olive-Almond Pesto and Asiago Cheese
Servings: 4
Cooking Light

1 pound uncooked rigatoni
1 1/4 cups (6 ounces) pitted manzanilla (or green) olives
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large garlic clove
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Asiago cheese.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta, reserving 6 tablespoons cooking liquid.
Place olives, sliced almonds (toast almonds in a toaster oven for 3-4 minutes or in a skillet over medium heat), flat-leaf parsley leaves, black pepper, and garlic in a food processor; pulse 3 times or until coarsely chopped. With processor on, add 2 tablespoons water and 1 teaspoon vinegar through the food chute, processing until mixture is finely chopped. 

Combine pasta, 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid, and olive mixture in a large bowl; toss well. Add enough of remaining 2 tablespoons cooking liquid to make pasta mixture moist, tossing well to coat. 

Sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.

You can serve this with a spinach salad or even just some grape tomatoes if you are in a hurry. Really good! Enjoy!

Garlic-Rosemary Lamb Pita

Easy peasy, quick and yummy! This goes together in about 20 minutes  or less – faster than take out! Two caveats: I didn’t have any lamb and lamb is so pricey that I used antelope. But you could use any lean cut of beef, or pork or chicken breasts. Any would taste delicious. If you use chicken, cook each side for 3 minutes instead of 2.

And it says to make the sauce while the meat cooks, but I prepared most of the sauce before I put the meat on to cook because the meat cooks so fast.

Garlic-Rosemary Lamb Pita
Cooking Light
Servings: 4

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound boneless leg of lamb, cut into (3/4-inch) cubes
1 1/2 cups finely chopped seeded cucumber
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 (6-ounce) container plain low-fat yogurt
4 (6-inch) whole wheat pitas

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Combine rosemary, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and lamb, tossing to coat. 

Add lamb mixture to pan; sauté 2 minutes, without stirring. Then turn and sauté another 2 minutes without stirring. This puts a nice crisp glaze on the meat. 

Give it a quick stir before removing from the pan to get up all those crisp little bits of seasoning.
While lamb cooks, combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, cucumber, lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and yogurt. 

Oh, I threw some grape tomatoes in too.

Divide lamb mixture evenly among each of 4 pitas, and drizzle with sauce.

I served these with sweet potato fries:

I really like her website too. So take the night off from cooking – mostly – and enjoy!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Superfast Kofte

Superfast is right! It took me longer to assemble the ingredients than to do the actual cooking!

I wasn’t quite sure what Kofte is so I went to Wikipedia and found that it is:
…minced lamb meatballs with herbs, often including parsley and mint, on a stick, grilled.…. The food is popular in Iran, Turkey, where there are hundreds of versions.

This is a great introduction if this is new to you too! I served it with a quinoa/brown rice mix that only took 20 minutes to prepare and cook. Easy peasy.

Superfast Kofte
(Cooking Light)

Now that is lean ground meat, baby!
1/2 cup prechopped white onion – minced fine
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (found in the produce section)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 pound lean ground round (I used ground elk/antelope)
1 large egg white, lightly beaten (this helps hold the lean meat together)
Cooking spray
8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices plum tomato (about 2 tomatoes)
4 (6-inch) multi grain pitas, split
1/4 cup plain yogurt

Preheat broiler. You could grill these too, but you don’t want them to dry out because the meat is so lean.

Combine first 12 ingredients in a large bowl; stir until just combined. 

Divide mixture into 8 equal portions; shape each portion into a (2-inch) patty. Place patties on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. 

Broil 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Place 1 tomato slice and 1 patty in each pita half; top each half with 1 1/2 teaspoons yogurt.

These are supertasty too!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Seared Mediterranean Tuna Steaks

Yummy! Delicious! So easy! I think I sound like a broken record these days, but this recipe is another winner. Did I mention fast? And fabulous?

I didn’t have any tuna steaks, so I just used some salmon. And I grilled it instead of searing it on the stove, but that’s only because I love grilled food. And it doesn’t get the stove top all splattered. I grilled the salmon at 450 degrees for 4 minutes on each side. The rub with the salt, coriander and pepper makes a nice little glaze on top.

You can serve this with a side of refrigerated potato wedges, roasted according to package instructions. Or make your own oven potato fries:

Seared Mediterranean Tuna Steaks

4 (6-ounce) Yellowfin tuna steaks (about 3/4 inch thick)
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups chopped seeded tomato
1/4 cup chopped green onions
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
12 chopped pitted kalamata olives

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fish with 1/4 teaspoon salt, coriander, and pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add fish to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.
While fish cooks, combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, tomato, and remaining ingredients. Serve tomato mixture over fish.

Now I want some more. Lots more.