Archive | May, 2007

White Chocolate Irish Cream Marbled Loaf Cake

31 May

We have been out for Memorial Day and my brother’s graduation, hence the lack of posts. But I am back now with some recipes that we made over the weekend.

White chocolate AND irish cream: two things I love. Cake makes for three things that I love. The white chocolate makes this cake very moist and the liqueur adds a distinct flavor to complement the smooth white chocolate.


White Chocolate Irish Cream Marbled Loaf Cake

makes 1 loaf

adapted from a recipe by Dorie Greenspan.


2 1/4 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup milk

4 oz white chocolate or white coating bark (cheaper than white chocolate) melted and cooled

1/4 c Bailey’s or Starbucks Coffee Liqueur

1/4 c cocoa powder


Preheat oven to 325F.

With an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Add sugar and beat for another 2-3 minutes.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Beat in vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternatively add the flour mixture in 3 additional and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients), mixing only until each addition is incorporated.

Divide batter in half.

Stir 4 ounces of melted white chocolate into the batter and mix until well incorporated.

Take the other half of the batter and add Bailey’s and cocoa powder. Place the chocolate portion into an 8 ½-x-4 ½-x-2 ½ inch loaf pan greased and floured pan first, followed by the white chocolate batter.

Swirl a knife through the cake to marble the dough.

Bake cake for 1 hour , or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean. If the cake looks as if it is getting too brown during it’s bake, cover it loosely with a foil tent.

Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it rest for about 15 minutes before removing from pan.

Cool the cake to room temperature right side up on the rack.



Easy Turkey Burgers

25 May

I struggle to eat red meat. Ever so often I crave a burger (and when I do, it had better be a big juicy one loaded with condiments); otherwise, I am perfectly happy with chicken, fish, or turkey. So, I made these turkey burgers.


These were really, really good turkey burgers. I souped them up by serving them openface on toasted lemon rosemary bread, spread with hummus and topped with fresh spinach, avocado and tomato. Then topped the burgers with fresh mozarella which was melted under the broiler for 1 minute before placing the patty on top of the luscious bed of greens.

I know, right now you think…wow, so healthy. And it was so, so healthy until instead of eating the cantelope that I had cubed as a side dish, we whipped out some french fries instead. oops.


Turkey Burgers

adapted from Real Simple, June 2007.

serves 2.

1/2 pound ground turkey, I used the 99% lean

1 small zucchini, grated

1 small carrot, grated

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 large egg

1/2 T. olive oil

Preferred Fixings – Ideas: crusty bread, buns, mayo, hummus, honey mustard, grain mustard, ranch, tomato, lettuce, spinach, avocado, red onion…

In a large bowl, combine the turkey, zucchini, carrot, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and egg. Form the mixture into 2 patties.

Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the patties, turning once, until no trace of pink remains, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Dress up the burger and eat!


Tomato Basil Soup

24 May

In marketing, we are encouraged to stay away from superlatives. The “best,” “fastest,” and “industry’s first” are all phrases scorned upon by those with legal degrees, protecting the company from all things verboten, rightfully so; however, here I will take the opportunity to tout recipes with any qualifier that I deem fit.


On that note, this is definitely a great the best Tomato Basil Soup. It is an easy recipe, too. A semi-homemade-type recipe including things coming in cans and avoiding all chopping. The salt brings out the sweetness of the cream and butter, and the stock and cream make a smooth base for the tomatoes.

My favorite part is that this recipe is light enough, with a distinct flavor, that it can be a great first course for a pasta or chicken dish, or an easy complement to dress-up homemade pizza.


Tomato Basil Soup

serves 8.

3 cans crushed whole tomatoes, drained

3 cans chicken broth

14 washed fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish

1 cup heavy cream**

1/4 pound sweet, unsalted butter

Salt to taste

1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Combine tomatoes and broth in saucepan. Simmer 30 minutes.

Move tomatoes and broth to blender or food processor.

Puree, along with the basil leaves. Here, you can choose how smooth you want the soup. Either puree the broth and tomatoes until completely smooth, or leave some tomato chunks if you want s thicker soup.

Return to saucepan and add cream and butter, while stirring, over low heat. Garnish with basil leaves and serve with your favorite bread.img_0710.jpg

Ina’s PB&J Bars

22 May


This recipe is awesome. It is awesome for two-year-olds and and I think my grandpa would love it too. Who doesn’t love the comfort of peanut butter and jelly? I do, particularly on a rainy day on soft white bread (rule for comfort food: no need for nutritional concern). In fact, I still make PB&J for Jon and my lunches some days.

There are apparently a lot of people in England with nut allergies (how so many? I do not know), because the country as a whole is very paranoid about nuts (WARNING: THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS NUTS). Therefore, when we lived overseas, there weren’t many peanut butter cookies or peanut butter bars. Marmite: yes; salad cream: yes; mincemeat pie: yes (why?); peanut butter: no. Thankfully, one of my dad’s favorite weekend activities was going to explore any new American imports at the Costco down south (it was a long drive for Costco…an hour maybe?) with Mr. Marchesi and they would pull through, bringing home peanut butter by the quart. My mom would roll her eyes, wondering how we would evey get to the bottom of that jar or better yet, how we would fit it in our teeny-tiny pantry, and then she would realize that dad bought the double pack. Peanut butter for everyone! My mom is fantastic and makes some wonderful peanut butter cookies, she used to let me make the criss-cross on the top of her peanut butter cookies with a fork. Thanks, mom.

There are peanuts on top of these bars, but if you don’t like nuts on your sweets, just leave them out. Also, these bars are pretty heavy, so I cut them into bite-size squares for easy snacking and so I would not have to commit to eating a whole bar.

Comfort food for all, ah, a recipe loved by all most.


Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten

serves 36.

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs

2 cups (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter (use the full-fat stuff…remember the rule about comfort food?)

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 1/2 cups (18 ounces) jam (i used raspberry)

2/3 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch cake pan.

Line it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.Add in baking powder and salt.With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a knife or offset spatula.

Spread the jam evenly over the dough.

Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don’t worry if all the jam isn’t covered; it will spread in the oven.

Sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown.

Cool and cut into squares.

Mojitos and Tamale Cornbread Casserole

22 May

Some of our friends have a garden in their backyard (this is very impressive as we know few people with houses and even less with gardens) and are growing some herbs and veggies for the summer season. This weekend, I benefited from the mint plant in their backyard. Amanda came over this weekend to lay out by the pool with me (our perk for living in an apartment complex) with the mint, some mango rum, and club soda…and Saturday afternoon Mojitos were born.


I didn’t even think I liked rum (maybe because we’ve always bought the cheap stuff) but Amanda brought some Mango rum from St. Croix that was very, very good. So good, in fact, that we made them again tonight! Note to Amanda: according to how the grocery store values Mint…you have at least $100 of it if your garden

Mango Mojitos

serves 2.

16 mint leaves

4 T. sugar

1 lime

16 oz club soda

3 oz. Cruzian Mango Rum

Chop mint leaves and divide between two glasses.

Put 2 T. sugar in each glass. If you have a muddler –now is your chance to show it off, if not–a wooden spoon works just fine: crush the mint and sugar together in the bottom of the glass, you are trying to release the mint flavors from the leaves and mix them with the sugar.

Cut lime in half, squeeze each half into a glass and drop the lime into the glass.

Fill glass 3/4 full with ice (this will keep all og the mint from immediately floating.

Add 8oz club soda and 1.5oz rum to each glass.

Stir. Insert straw. Enjoy.

(To complement the mojitos) we had this Tamale cornbread casserole.


This casserole really does not resemble tamales at all, but it is very good, easy, healthy and quite cheap-all things we like. I am not crazy about corn tortillas, but this recipe gets the corn feature of tamales into the dish with cornbread, which I love. The sweet flavour of the cornbread complements the spicy chile powder and the bite of the green chiles. I used pepper jack cheese in the recipe for an extra kick, but you could use cheddar for a sharper taste, or american for a more mild taste.

Tamale Cornbread Casserole

adapted from Hands-Off Cooking: Low-Supervision, High-Flavor Meals for Busy People, Ann Martin Rolke

serves 4.

3/4 pounds lean ground beef

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons chile powder (more or less to taste)

2 teaspoons cumin (more or less to taste)

1 (28 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained (Muir Glen makes the best ones around, but I can’t always find them at all grocery stores. Down south, HEB and Randall’s usually have them)

1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained,

1 (16 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained

1 (2.25 ounce) can sliced ripe olives

3/4 cup grated pepper jack cheese (about 3 ounces)

1-pound of Jiffy cornbread mix prepared with 1/3 c. milk and 1 egg as directed.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat ground beef in a large skillet on medium high. Add the onion and bell pepper. Add salt, chile powder, and cumin. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beef has browned. Remove from heat. Drain excess fat if necessary (if you are using lean beef, there shouldn’t be excess).

Mix in fire-roasted tomatoes, chiles, corn and olives


Grease an 8×8 pan and spoon in filling.

Top with shredded cheese.

Spread prepared cornbread as top layer over cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is browned.


steamed cod and asparagus in parchment for mother’s day.

14 May

Why for Mother’s Day? you ask…

My mom loves fish, but she is home with my dad and brother who have an “blah” attitude toward fish (“They just don’t get excited about it”). It was just Mother’s Day, so we ought to give her what she wants now, right?


I love seafood. LOVE it. If it weren’t for the steep prices and those facts about mercury, I would eat it every day. This love has been born only in the past few years. Before that, I begrudgingly ate anything from the sea with the aforementioned attitude of my male family counterparts above. Sorry about that, mom.

My husband and I made this for dinner, and it was by far the most fresh fish dish I have ever made. Because of the parchment packets, the fish and asparagus steam and bake in the fish oils. This allows you, the eater, to maximize your consumption of those ever-so-heart-healthy Omega 3s.


steamed cod and asparagus in parchment.

adapted from Real Simple: Meals Made Easy.



serves 2.

3/4 pound small red potatoes, sliced about ¼ inch thick

2 6oz cod filets (salmon, tuna, or halibut would all work as well. fresh is best! get the filets from the meat counter.

1 t. salt

1 t. pepper

1 T. chopped fresh thyme

2 green onions, trimmed and cut into one-inch pieces

½ pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into one-inch pieces

2 t. olive oil

Parchment paper, torn into 4 15×15 inch sheets


Heat Oven to 400.

Place 2 parchment sheets side by side on a baking sheet (they will overlap, this is fine)

Scatter half of the potatoes in the center of both sheets.

Rinse the cod and pat it dry with paper towels, then place the fillets on top of the potatoes.

Season each fillet with salt and pepper. Add the thyme, green onions and asparagus on top of the fish, then drizzle with olive oil.

Top with remaining parchment sheets and roll sides in to seal (as seen in photo). Bake for 22 minutes.


You won’t be able to check if the fish is done, so leave it in for the whole 20 minutes!

To serve, place each packet on a place and cut an X into it with a knife or kitchen scissors, it is easiest (and pretty) to eat out of the paper.


12 May

I don’t know when I really took to cooking. I took to eating at a very young age, but the cooking came later.

My parents always cooked most every night, TV dinners were treats because we never ate them and when we lived overseas, other kids wanted their dads to bring them clothes but not me, I wanted Hamburger Helper. I thought it was a delicacy. Rather, I just didn’t realize that I had it great already with home-cooked meals!

I think I decided to start cooking after what was probably my 100th chicken sandwich with honey mustard dressing and a side of fries from the college dorm cafeteria my freshman year. I just felt uninspired and well, heavy. So it was back up to the dorm room with a microwave and a George Foreman grill. I fought with these two appliances (if you prop up the slanted George Foreman so that you have a flat surface…you can actually fry an egg on the thing) until the next fall, when we moved into an apartment with a full kitchen. Then the cooking began.

Now, I have the pleasure of a husband, who will try anything I am working on atleast once, for whom to cook.