Archive for September, 2010

Pesto Sauce

Looking at my sink, full of basil, I can not think of anything better to make than some fresh pesto.  It is so simple to make, yet so delicious.  Make extra and freeze it for future use.

Serves 6

This pesto is made in the food processor for this first part:

  • 2 cups of freshly picked basil leaves, tightly packed
  • 3 Tbsp. pine (pignola) nuts
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine before putting in processor
  • Salt

For completion by hand:

  • 1/2 freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 pounds pasta, such a spaghetti or linguine, cooked al dente.

Briefly soak and wash basil in cold water, pat or spin dry well.

Put the basil, garlic, pine nut, olive oil and a good pinch of salt in the food processor bowl, and process to a uniform, creamy consistency.

Transfer to a bowl and mix in the grated cheese by hand.  When the cheese in mixed in well, mix in the softened butter, distributing it evenly in the sauce.

When spooning the pesto over the pasta, dilute it slightly with a little of the pasta cooking water; about one or two tablespoons.

If you make extra to freeze, prepare up until the cheese and butter would be added.


Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Whipped Caramel Cream

These can be made two ways.  The ones I made today are made with less sugar and contain no milk.  You save on carbs, calories and sugar.  They are delectably yummy.  The whipped cream is flavored with a touch of caramel. Not too sweet. Light and fluffy.  I am very happy with these. The cake itself came out dense and moist and very chocolaty.  I used Dutch process cocoa for them.  Very good stuff.

The only substitutions is the sugar and the milk. So I will put the original ingredients in parentheses next to my modified ingredients for you to use if you wish.

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes

  • 1 3/4 cups (245 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Splenda Sugar Blend or (2 cups sugar)
  • 3/4 cup (75 grams) Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup (240 ml) warm water 
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened almond milk or (1/2 cup milk)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) canola or corn oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Line 24 regular-sized muffin cups with paper liners or spray each cup with a non stick vegetable spray.
In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, mashed bananas, water, milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir, or whisk, until combined.
Pour or scoop the batter into the muffin cups, about 3/4 full, and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely and then frost with Whipped Caramel Cream.

Read for the complete nutrition analysis.  Using the sugar and milk adds an additional 10 grams of carbs and sugars and 30 calories per cupcake.

Whipped Caramel Cream

  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of caramel topping

Chill mixing bowl and beaters for at least 15 minutes before using. Place water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over water and allow to soften 5 minutes.

Dissolve gelatin by microwaving for 2 minutes, stirring after every minute. Remove from microwave and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes; gelatin must be liquid but not warm when added to cream.

Remove bowl and beaters from refrigerator and pour in cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat together just until beater marks begin to show distinctly.

Add gelatin mixture to cream, pouring in a steady stream while beating constantly. Beat until stiff peaks form. Use immediately.

Pipe or plop on the top of the cooled cupcake.  I drizzled some additional caramel and topped with walnut pieces.

Creamy Chicken Stuffed Poblano Chile Peppers

This idea started out as a craving for chile rellenos.  After seeing the work involved with them, I decided to go a different route. I wanted to have some sort of meat in them in addition to the cheese and not attempting to batter and fry them seemed more appealing to me.  So, I came up with this recipe. They turned out better than I expected.  They could have been a bit spicier, but that’s just me.

So, if you make it, please tell me what you think and if you make any adjustments, let me know that as well.


  • 1 whole chicken breast, bone-in
  • 1 packet Goya Sazòn Picante Seasoning
  • water to cook chicken
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 large Poblano chile peppers
  • olive oil
  • shredded Mexican-style cheese ( I used a four cheese blend) Use whatever you like.

Step One – Prepare Chicken

Fill a saucepan, large enough to hold the chicken breast, 3/4 of the way full with water.  Add the packet of Goya and dissolve.

Add the chicken, some salt and bring to a boil for three minutes.  Lower to a simmer, cook for 40 minutes, or until chicken is tender.  Remove chicken from broth, set aside to cool.  When cool enough to handle, shred the breast.  Cover and place in refrigerator.

Save the remaining broth from cooking the chicken. You can use it later if needed.

Step Two – Prepare Poblanos

Wash and dry poblanos.  With a paring knife, make a vertical slit from the stem down.  Place on a plate and microwave three minutes to make pliable.  When cool, take kitchen shears and cut a 1/4″ or so portion from the pepper.  This is so you can stuff them easily.  Set aside.

Step Three – Prepare Stuffing

Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet.  Add onion and jalapeno pepper and cook until softened, about three minutes.  Add chopped tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and cook another three minutes.

Add cream cheese to the pan and mix around until it softens up to a creamy consistency.  Add the shredded chicken.  Taste for seasoning. Adjust if necessary.  If too dry, add a little bit of the chicken cooking liquid.  Remove from heat.

Step Five – Stuff Poblanos

Squeeze a little olive on your hands and lube up the peppers nicely.  Stuff each pepper with the chicken mixture. Make sure you stuff them well. Not overflowing though.  Place peppers in a greased pan and cover with foil.

Heat oven to 350° and cook for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and top each pepper with the shredded cheese.  Return to oven and cook until cheese is melted and nicely browned, about 10 minutes longer. I also poured a bit of the cooking liquid in the bottom of the pan at this point to get some steam to them and finish the cooking process. It worked rather well.

Remove to plate and serve on a bed of rice, if desired.

Green Bean, Feta Cheese and Walnut Salad

Crisp-cooked green beans, creamy feta, crunchy toasted walnuts and spicy red onions come together in a delightful and healthy salad.  Dressed in a delicate dill vinaigrette. It’s quite pretty, too.

  • 1  cup  coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 3/4  cup  olive oil
  • 1/4  cup  white wine vinegar
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2  teaspoon  minced garlic
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  pepper
  • 1 1/2  pounds  fresh green beans
  • 1  small purple onion, thinly sliced
  • 1  (4-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese

Bake walnuts in a shallow pan at 350°, stirring occasionally, 5 to 10 minutes or until toasted; set aside.

Combine oil and next 5 ingredients; cover and chill.

Cut green beans into thirds, and arrange in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover and steam 15 minutes or until green beans are crisp-tender. Immediately plunge green beans into cold water to stop cooking process; drain and pat dry.

Combine walnuts, beans, onion, and cheese in a large bowl; toss well. Cover and chill.

Pour oil mixture over bean mixture 1 hour before serving; toss just before serving.

Baked Maryland-Style Crabcakes

I was so in the mood for crabcakes today.  I came across this recipe and after making it, have made some minor adjustments.  They were good, considering they weren’t fried.  Of course, I’m sure you could fry them if you wish.  The Old Bay gave a nice Maryland-style flavor to them and it was mostly crab, not all filler.

  • 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp.  dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. dried mustard
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of cholesterol free egg product (like Egg Beaters)
  • 1 lb. lump crab meat

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a baking sheet.

Combine bread crumbs, baking powder, parsley, mustard powder, pepper, salt and seafood seasoning; set aside.

Stir together mayonnaise, butter, Worcestershire, and egg product until smooth.

Note: I used 3/4 of a cup and found it was a little watery. So I added more breadcrumbs.  Next time I’d lower the liquid to 1/2 cup and add more if needed.

Fold in crab meat, then fold in bread crumb mixture until well blended.

Shape mixture into 8 crab cakes, about 3/4 inch thick, and place onto prepared baking sheet.

Bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes, then turn the crab cakes over, and bake an additional 10 minutes, until nicely browned.