Monday, March 28, 2011

Mango Blueberry Muffins with Coconut Steusel

I don't know about where you live, but here on the East Coast, winter decided to make a little comeback this weekend.  We even had snow showers this morning.  In honor of the weather's decision to freak out, I thought a little trip to the tropics via these wonderful little muffins was in order.  I've never had a muffin containing mango, although I love mangoes in other dishes, but after trying out this recipe I am now a big fan. They are so juicy that they make the muffin moist and add a lot of sweetness. I let mine ripen for several days on my kitchen counter and was rewarded with chucks of sweet mango goodness in these muffins.  It reminded me of a peach, one of my favorite fruits to bake with and I may try this recipe and substitute peaches during the summer when they are at their juiciest.  The original recipe says to use fresh blueberries for this, but I had a bag of frozen blueberries on hand and they worked beautifully.  I love keeping frozen fruit like blueberries and mixed berries around to throw in muffins, pancakes, or scones-- it just makes life easier.  Finally, the coconut cinnamon streusel is delicious and the perfect topping to these sweet and fruity muffins.  They really gave these muffins a "tropical" taste.  I liked it mixed in with the usual cinnamon, flour, and butter mixture that one usually finds for a streusel recipe.


For the Steusel Topping:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbs. white sugar
3 tbs. sweetened flaked coconut, chopped
1 pinch salt
2 tbs. butter

For the Muffins:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup mango- peeled, seeded, and diced

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease 14-16 muffin cups or line with muffin liners.

2. Combine 1/4 cup flour, cinnamon, 1 tbs. sugar, the coconut, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.  Cut in 2 tbs. of butter and incorporate completely until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Use either a fork or your fingers to work the butter into the flour mixture.

3. Beat the unsalted butter, 1 1/4 cups sugar, and 1/2 tsp. of salt with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth.  Beat the first egg into the butter until completely blended before adding the second; continue mixing until light and fluffy.  Combine 1 3/4 cups of flour with the baking powder. Stir into the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Only mix until just incorporated-- be careful to not overmix. Toss the blueberries with 1/4 cup of flour; stir into the batter along with the mango.  Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tins; sprinkle with the coconut streusel.

4.  Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 25 to 35 minutes.

Adapted from

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies with Heath Bars and Pecans

Its been one of those weeks when you just need to make brownies. You know those weeks.  There are times when comfort foods, especially sweet comfort foods are in order. These stepped up to the plate (ha,ha) and satisfied that chocolate and sugar craving and were just so, so good.  I've been eyeing their picture in my cookbook for sometime but finally decided to make them--and oh, what took me so long? They have it all:  fudgy brownie base, luscious cream cheese topping, toasted pecans, and a good sprinkling of Heath Bar.  What else can you say about these except that you need to make them right now?

These brownies are from one of my favorite cookbooks ( I feel like I say that about all of my cookbooks), At Home with Magnolia.  Its by Alllysa Torrey who is the owner of the famed Magnolia Bakery in New York City.  She has several cookbooks out that are full of wonderful from-scratch, old-fashioned sweets, but this one also features savory recipes as well as desserts.  Her recipe combinations just always work so I turn to these books time and time again --cream cheese brownies+ Heath Bar + toasted pecans? Sign me up!


For the cream cheese filling:
One 8-oz. pkg cream cheese, not softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temp.
2 tbs. all-purpose flour

For the brownies:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tbs. whole milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
2/3 cup chopped Heath bars, or any chocolate-covered toffee bars

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 13x9-inch baking pan.

To make the cream cheese filling:  In a medium-size bowl, beat the cream cheese with the sugar until smooth. Add the egg and flour and beat well.  Set aside.

To make the brownies:  In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.  In a medium-size saucepan over low heat, melt the butter with the chocolate, stirring occasionally, until smooth.  Remove from the heat, transfer to a large bowl, and allow to cool for about 5 minutes until lukewarm.  Stir in the sugar.  Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla and beat well.  Add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Stir in half of the pecans and half of the Heath Bars.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the brownie batter.  Spread the rest of the batter evenly in the prepared pan.  Drop the cream cheese mixture by tablespoonfuls over the batter.  Next, drop the reserved brownie batter by teaspoonfuls in between the cream cheese filling.  Using a small knife, swirl the two batters together, forming a decorative pattern.  Sprinkle the remaining pecans and Heath Bars over the top, and using a spatula, gently press into the batter.  Bake for 40-55 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the pan comes out with moist crumbs attached.  Do not overbake.  Allow to cool overnight before cutting and serving.

Note:  To toast the pecans, place on a baking sheet in a 350 degree F oven for 5-10 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant.  Be careful to not let them burn!  I make sure to set the timer for 5 minutes and then add time as necessary as they are very easy to burn.

Adapted from At Home with Magnolia

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lightened-Up Chicken Cordon Bleu (But You'll Never Know It)

I thought I'd share another one of my favorite Weight Watcher's friendly recipes.  Its such a great thing when you actually look forward to having a dish for dinner because you think its delicious but it has the added value of not blowing your diet as well.  This recipe fits the bill on both accounts.  I love this chicken because its lower in calories but doesn't sacrifice flavor at all.  You can also prepare and bake this dish in no time so its good for a week night meal.  This recipe calls for you to pound chicken breasts and then layer prosciutto with just 1 Tbs. of shredded Mozzarella cheese and then roll them up like a jelly roll.  You're probably thinking, 1 Tbs. of cheese is nothing but its surprisingly cheesy.  One of the things I love most about this recipe is the sauce that you make to dip the rolled up chicken into and then pour on top before baking.  Its so flavorful and really makes this dish truly yummy.  Its basically just chicken broth, a little butter, and minced garlic. The garlic really permeates the sauce and there is just enough butter to make this rich without adding excess calories.

This is a favorite around our house and is a recipe that we keep in frequent rotation.  Its great served with a side of orzo or mashed potatoes and some steamed broccoli.   

1/4 cup fat free, low sodium chicken broth
5 tsp. butter, melted
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 Tbs. grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tsp. paprika
4 (6 oz) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
4 thin slices prosciutto (about 2 oz.)
1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place broth in a small microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on high for about 15 seconds until warm.  Stir in melted butter and minced garlic and set aside.  Combine breadcrumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and paprika in a medium shallow bowl.

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound each to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin.  Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt and pepper.  Top each breast half with 1 slice of prosciutto and 1 Tbs. of mozzarella.  Roll up each breast half in jelly roll fashion.  Dip the roll in the broth/butter mixture and then in the breadcrumbs.  Place rolls, seam side down, in a glass baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Pour remaining broth mixture over the chicken.  Bake at 350 degrees for 28 minutes or until the juices run clear and the tops are golden brown.

4 Servings.  1 rolled chicken breast half = 7 Weight Watcher's Point's Plus (Fat 9.9g, Carbs 3.8, Protein 45.5, and Fiber .5g).

Adapted from Cooking Light

Friday, March 18, 2011

FFwD: Salted Butter Break-Ups

First off, I'd like to give a shout-out to my food processor.  Without that wonderful appliance, I don't think I'd make it through this little adventure in French cooking.  Its definitely working overtime and hopefully it will make it through the long haul.  We've still got a lot of recipes to go!

This week's recipe was Salted Butter Break-ups.  Think of a buttery sweet sugar cookie with a hint of salt.  Using the blessed food processor, this recipe came together in no time.  You basically process chilled butter into flour, sugar, and kosher salt and then bake (after eating bites of raw dough).  After chilling the dough, you roll it out and give it a quick egg wash and then use a fork to make a crosshatch pattern to give the cookie a nice finish.

One of the things I love about FFwD recipes is that they always make my house smell delicious and usually of butter.  This week was no different.  Again, I really enjoyed this week's recipe.  This sweet and salty cookie comes from the Western part of France and was a nice deviation from the usual American sugar cookie.  Serving the cookie whole and letting guests break off their own portions, as Dorie recommends, would be a great ending to a casual dinner.  I think I'll definitely make this again.

To see other's Salted Butter Break-Up's click here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chocolate Mint Whoopie Pies for St. Patrick's Day

To continue in my whoopie pie obsession, I bring you chocolate mint whoopie pies for St. Patrick's Day!  I absolutely loved this recipe and really had to give these away in order to keep from eating them all myself.  I cracked open my recently acquired book of Whoopie Pies (see the link on where to buy it below) which allows you to mix and match cake and filling recipes thus giving you an endless supply of whoopie goodness.  I liked their chocolate cake recipe for the whoopie pies even better than the one I made a few weeks ago so I believe this may be my chocolate whoopie pie recipe of choice from now on.  The cakes turned out so moist, dense, and chocolaty-- they truly tasted like the whoopie pies that I remember eating when I was young.  The mint buttercream was to die for-- creamy, sweet, and with a nice hint of mint.  The original recipe called for 1/2 tsp. of salt for the buttercream filling but I found that to be a tad salty for my tastes.  In my adaptation below, I reduced it to 1/4 tsp. which is how I will probably make it next time.  I also thought these were better the next day after the flavors had time to meld together.  Overall, I look forward to making these over and over again and think they'll be great at Christmas.

Happy St. Patrick's day everyone!

For the Chocolate Whoopie Pies

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
4 Tbs. vegetable shortening
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, shortening, and brown sugar on low speed until just combined.  Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes.

Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk to the batter and beat on low until just incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the remaining flour mixture and milk and beat until completely combined.

Using a measuring spoon, drop about 1 tablespoon of batter onto prepared baking sheets and repeat, spacing them at least 2 inches apart.  Bake for about 10 minutes or until the pies spring back when pressed gently.  Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

For the Mint Buttercream Filling:

2 cups powdered sugar
4 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 Tbs. heavy (whipping) cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. mint extract
1/4 tsp. salt

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the powdered sugar and the butter, starting on low and increasing to medium speed, until the mixture is crumbly, about 1 minute.  Add the heavy cream, vanilla, mint extract, and salt and beat on high until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Adapted from Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell

Monday, March 14, 2011

Crustless Quiche for Pi Day

So today is Pi Day (3.14). I am not "mathy" at all but will always use an excuse to eat or make pie.  I love pie in all shapes and sizes but thought I'd offer up this recipe for crustless quiche as my contribution to the day.  This is a great midweek meal that will give you a delicious Quiche Lorraine (minus the crust) in no time.  Its full of ham and Swiss cheese so all you need to make the meal complete is a nice side salad and dinner is served.  I guarantee you will be thrilled at how easy this is and how good it tastes.  You don't even need to chop an onion!  Excuse the gigantic hunk missing from the dish but it smelled so good while it was cooking that we couldn't wait to eat some before I took the pictures. :)

This recipe is listed on one of my favorite blogs Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker who has a fun feature every Monday called "Your Recipe, My Kitchen" where people can leave their favorite recipe they've found from other blogs, cookbooks, friends, etc.  Its a great resource to find other tried and true recipes!  Check it out here.

1 1/2 Tbs. fine dry plain bread crumbs
1 cup frozen chopped onions
1 cup diced cooked ham (1/4 lb)
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 (8 oz.) pkg. shredded Swiss cheese (2 cups)
4 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees with rack in the middle.  Butter a 10 inch quiche dish or glass pie plate, then sprinkle all over with bread crumbs.

Cook onions with ham in butter in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until pale golden, about 5 minutes.  Spread in dish, then evenly sprinkle cheese on top.

Whisk together eggs, cream, milk, and 1/2 tsp pepper and pour over cheese.

Bake until top is golden and custard is set in center, 20 to 25 minutes.  Cool slightly before cutting into wedges.

Serves 4.

Adapted from the late great Gourmet Magazine, March 2008 edition

Friday, March 11, 2011

FFwD: I Dreamed a Dream of Beggar's Linguine

This week's assigned dish for French Friday's with Dorie was entitled "Beggar's Linguine."  I, and it seems many others, were a little apprehensive of this dish since its pasta tossed in a butter sauce with nuts, figs, and raisins. Sounds strange, right?  Not by any planning, but only because I procrastinate, I did not make the pasta until last night when, it just so happens, my husband and I were watching the 25th Anniversary of Les Miserables Concert at the O2 in London on PBS.  It was definitely a fitting backdrop in which to make "Beggar's Linguine" and how can you not be inspired to whip up some French dishes with that masterpiece playing in the background?  I highly recommend catching a re-showing when you can.

Anyway, for the pasta, you brown the butter and saute pistachios and almonds, and oh, they make your house smell so nice!  The recipe calls for dried mission figs and golden raisins that you then simmer in the butter.  I thought I was going to have a hard time finding mission figs at my grocery store but found ONE bag hiding in the dried fruit section.  Whew! They were on sale too!  Finally, you toss the cooked pasta in this delicious buttery and slightly sweet sauce.  Then you top with freshly grated Parmesan.  Dorie says to toss with some orange zest but I omitted that and opted instead to just top with some chopped chives (she said to use chives or parsley).  I loved the chives though.  I wouldn't have thought of that for a garnish but there was something about the buttery sauce, the sweetness of the fruit, the roasted nuts, and the tang from the chives that brought the whole dish together.

My husband and I both really enjoyed this pasta and were sampling it by the time the Thenardier's were crashing Cossette's wedding. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this recipe and again, had it not been for being in French Friday's with Dorie, I would never have tried this.  Its so much fun to discover these new and delicious flavors and find out just how much you enjoy them! To see some of the other's experiences with "Beggar's Linguine" head on over to the website here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lime Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream

Who doesn't love cupcakes? One of the best things about them-- besides the frosting and cute little liners which are like clothes for your dessert-- is that there are endless flavor combinations.  I like to try to think of my favorite flavors and if they would marry well as a cupcake.  I thought it would be fun to combine 2 of my favorite dessert flavors-- strawberry and lime-- and see if they would make a good cupcake.  I have a recipe for lime pound cake that I've made for years and its one of my favorite desserts so I knew the cake part would be good and I've made strawberry buttercream for other cakes but never combined the two.  I happened to have both strawberries and limes in the fridge so thought I'd have fun and play.

I ended up adapting a classic recipe I have for 1-2-3-4 cake (1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour, 4 eggs) that is basically just your regular yellow cake that you see in many cookbooks.  I added lime juice and zest and omitted the vanilla.  I then added pureed fresh strawberries to my favorite recipe for vanilla buttercream from Magnolia's Bakery.  I was very happy with the beautiful pink color of the icing from the strawberries.  Its so nice when you achieve those results naturally without having to use food coloring.  Ah, the simple pleasures of life! :) I really liked how these turned out too.  The cake had a nice tang from the lime zest and it balanced out the sweetness of the strawberry buttercream! Overall yummy! I would make these again, especially as we get into the warmer months since they are light and refreshing.

For the Lime Cupcakes:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
1 cup milk
1/8 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tsp. freshly grated lime zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare 2 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Blend butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 to 3 minutes); add eggs 1 at a time beating after each addition.  Sift flour, salt and baking powder.  Add dry ingredients to wet, alternating with milk. Be careful not to overmix.  Add in lime juice and zest and mix.  Fill each cupcake liner about 3/4 of the way full.

Bake at 350 degrees about 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

For the Strawberry Buttercream:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
7-8 cups powdered sugar
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt

In a food processor place fresh or frozen strawberries and 1-2 Tbs. of powdered sugar if desired, puree the strawberries until there are no visible lumps. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl add the butter, 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla.  On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes.  Using a food strainer, slowly pour the strawberry puree into the mixing bowl until you reach your desired amount of strawberry flavor.  Start by adding the puree Tbs. by Tbs., taking care not to add to much or your icing will be runny.  I think I added about 1/4 of a cup by the end.  Then, add the remaining 3-4 cups of powdered sugar and blend until your icing is stiff enough that it will be able to spread on your cupcakes.  If you've added too much puree, just add a little more powdered sugar to make your icing more firm.  Finally, add a pinch of salt and blend.

Buttercream adapted from More from Magnolia

Monday, March 7, 2011

Slow Cooker Beef Brisket with Caramelized Onions: Delicious and Weight Watcher's Friendly!

While you can clearly tell from my blog I have a major sweet tooth, I also follow Weight Watchers to help keep that sweet tooth at bay. I joined for the first time 2 years ago to lose weight and now follow them for maintenance and tune-ups from time to time. :) To me, its the best way to adapt and maintain a lifestyle of healthy eating and portion control and I just can't say enough good things about the program.  I'm always on the lookout for new recipes for Weight Watcher's friendly dinners and over the 2+ years I've followed the program, I've accumulated quite a stack that my husband and I both love. It takes a little practice, but by swapping heavy amounts of butter and oils for low-fat flavorings such as broths, onion, garlic, wine, beer, and herbs, you can use these to flavor and season dishes in a way that people won't even miss the fat.  Since leaner cuts of meat can sometimes be tougher or less flavorful than their fattier counterparts, using the crock pot is a wonderful way to coax flavor and tenderness out of them.

This meal is one such dish.  Brisket is a leaner cut of beef and can be somewhat stringy but in this recipe, it cooks all day until you can shred it with a fork.  The beer, onions, and balsamic vinegar, give this a tangy, slightly nutty broth.  Its great served with mashed potatoes (email me if you want my trick of how to make them WW friendly) or it would be lovely served with some brown rice and a side of your favorite steamed vegetables.

1 (3 pound) beef brisket, trimmed of visible fat
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
cooking spray
1/4 cup water
2 cups vertically sliced onion (about 1 large)
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 12 oz. bottle light beer

Rub brisket with salt and pepper.  Heat a large heavy skillet over medium- high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add brisket to pan; cook 10 minutes, browning on all sides.  Remove brisket from the pan.  Add 1/4 cup water to pan, stirring to loosen browned bits.  Add onion; saute 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Place onion mixture, vinegar, bay leaf, and beer in a large electric slow cooker.  Place brisket on top of onion mixture.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until fork tender.  Discard bay leaf.  Serve with sauce.

Nutrition info:  3 oz. of meat and 1/3 cup sauce = 4 WW Points Plus.  (Fat 5g, Carbohydrates 5.6g, Protein 20.5g, Fiber 1.1g per serving).

Adapted from Cooking Light

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Grandmommie's Sour Cream Pound Cake

I have a little calendar that keeps track of national food holidays and according to them, March 4th is National Pound Cake Day.  I have no idea if that is the case or not, but there is nothing I love more than a good pound cake so I'm going with it! As you know, we are fierce in our devotion to pound cakes in the South.  Recipes are lovingly passed down from generation to generation.  I have many beloved and dog-eared southern church cookbooks and the defining feature of all of them is that they have a huge pound cake section with as many variations as you can imagine.  If you are sick or have had a baby recently people will bring you a pound cake because they care. My Mother's side of the family is from Georgia and we wholeheartedly embrace the pound cake. There are many recipes among my relatives but this is my Grandmother's recipe that she got from my Great-Grandmother.  This sour cream pound cake is lovely and I have been requesting this for my birthday cake since I was a child.  My Grandmother used to make it for me with a vanilla frosting because that was my preference but she also made this and served it with fresh Georgia peaches, and also with a delicious chocolate frosting.  Its a very versatile cake that can be changed according to your preference by adding different extracts, nuts, flavorings, or zest.  The sky's the limit!

So here's the recipe for Grandmommie's Sour Cream Pound Cake.  Why don't you make one and celebrate National Pound Cake Day!

Sour Cream Pound Cake

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 3/4 cups sugar
6 eggs
3 cups cake flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 12 cup bundt pan or spray with Baker's Joy.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Add eggs, two at a time, beating after each addition.

In a separate bowl, sift cake flour, baking soda, and salt.  Add this mixture to wet ingredients, alternating with the sour cream.  Add vanilla and beat for 2 minutes or until ingredients are mixed well.

Bake at 325 degrees until cake leaves the sides of the pan about 45 mins- 1 hour.  Allow cake to cool in pan before removing.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award!

Carina at Kitchen Groovy notified me that she had sweetly given me the Stylish Blogger Award! I have so enjoyed chatting with Carina on the "interwebs" and love seeing all of her yummy recipes.  Head on over to her blog and check out all of the delicious meals she cooks up for her family!

One of the conditions of this award is that I have to share 7 facts about myself.  That generally makes me feel uncomfortable and shy but here goes! :)

1.  I just celebrated my 4th wedding anniversary!

2.  I'm an only child (no judgment please).

3.  I love my morning coffee like nobody's business. Ask anyone who knows me or has ever worked with me.

4.  I love all things French and horribly regret that I never learned to speak it (one day!)

5.  I have watched Julie and Julia more times that I can count.  

6.  I have an amazing ability to memorize and never forget the lyrics to all kinds of random songs.  My husband is pretty much in awe of this.

7.  I hate bananas and have for my entire life.  Blech.

Now its my pleasure to pass the award along to the following bloggers.  These are blogs that I've enjoyed reading and getting to know the women behind the blogs.  It takes a lot of time and energy to keep a blog going so I am very appreciative of their efforts, creativity, and hard work! My selections are:

1.  One Perfect Bite
2. Yummy Chunklet
3. French Whisk
4. The Church Cook
5. Liv Life
6. Cake Whiz
7. Munchkin Munchies
8. Chef in my Own Mind
9. Daily Salt
10.The Not so Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler

Congrats everyone!

Green Goddess Soup

Because man cannot live by sweets alone, I thought it would be good to take a little break from all of the sugar here at Ryan Bakes in favor of the savory, for just a little bit anyway.  I have been doing marathon baking for some events for the past week or so and I'm a little sugared-out at the moment.  Besides, just in case you all were wondering, hubby and I do not exist on a diet of baked goods during our normal lives.  We do try to eat a balanced diet including things such as this delicious soup!

Green Goddess Soup-- isn't that a great name?  This is a soup that is good for you but doesn't taste like it-- the best kinds of recipes in my book. This soup contains asparagus, spinach and watercress simmered in chicken broth and is pureed at the end into a creamy smooth soup. It is so full of flavor AND vegetables and you would swear there was cream in this soup but there's not.  In fact the recipe only calls for a little bit of butter to saute the onion, garlic, and celery that gives this soup so much flavor and that really is the only fat in the whole thing! Its also very easy to make.  Once you've sauted the vegetables you simmer the asparagus and spinach in chicken broth for about an hour and then puree. You can even make this in the crock pot. I love this soup!

(Makes 8 to 10 servings)
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 small celery stalk, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
20 to 30 asparagus spears, bottom ends removed
1 large handful fresh watercress
One 5-ounce bag fresh spinach
8 cups chicken stock, I used low sodium
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the butter in a dutch oven or stock pot over low heat.  Add the onions, celery, and garlic and saute until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes (take care not to burn them).

2. Combine the sauteed vegetables, asparagus, watercress, spinach, and stock.  Cover and cook over medium heat for 1 hour.

3.  Carefully ladle the soup into a blender or a food processor in batches if necessary, and puree until smooth.  Then add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Slow cooker instructions:  Place the sauteed vegetables and the rest of the ingredients (except the salt and pepper) in a slow cooker set to low heat and cook for 3 to 6 hours.  Puree and season as described.

Adapted from Alice's Tea Cup
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