Saturday, May 7, 2011

Vanilla Crepes



When I was a little girl, my mother would always make us crepes on Sundays. I also loved the smell of vanilla when my mother would make her cookies. So, I would always ask her to make her cookies, and when she refused, I would take out the vanilla and sit it next to me with the cap open, so that I could breathe the aroma. My mother get a kick out of this, and said, well, if it's that important, we'll add a little vanilla kick, just for you. After the first time she put the vanilla in, there was never a last...it became a tradition :)

Vanilla Crepes

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter


Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the milk, egg yolks and vanilla. Stir in the flour, sugar, salt and melted butter until well blended.
  2. Heat a crepe pan over medium heat until hot. Coat with vegetable oil or cooking spray. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and tip to spread the batter to the edges. When bubbles form on the top and the edges are dry, flip over and cook until lightly browned on the other side and edges are golden. Repeat with remaining batter.
  3. Fill crepes with your favorite fruit, cream, caramel or even ice cream or cheese to serve.

Makes 12 crepes


Friday, May 6, 2011

Christmas Breakfast Sausage Casserole



My mom has always made this for us on Christmas morning, and since we only have it once a year it makes it even more good. It is so delicious, and everyone enjoys it! When I double the recipe I use 1 pound regular sausage and 1 pound sage sausage..

Christmas Breakfast Sausage Casserole

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound ground pork sausage
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 6 slices white bread, toasted and cut into cubes
  • 8 ounces mild Cheddar cheese, shredded


Directions:
  1. Crumble sausage into a medium skillet. Cook over medium heat until evenly brown; drain.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together mustard powder, salt, eggs and milk. Add the sausage, bread cubes, and cheese, and stir to coat evenly. Pour into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 8 hours, or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  4. Cover, and bake 45 to 60 minutes. Uncover, and reduce temperature to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until set.



makes 8 servings 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lemon Cake





Ruffles! I saw this frosting technique on sweetapolita and had to try it. I think the end of my piping tip was a bit too even – I could have gotten sharper ruffles with a tip that had a more angled opening. Regardless, I couldn’t contain my glee at the sight of such a pretty cake! I ran out of frosting though, so my two little cakes ended up being ruffled and sprinkled which I thought was quite fun.

The cake is a traditional white cake that I added a little lemon zest to, then filled with lemon curd and topped with Swiss meringue buttercream icing. Which is now my new favorite – so rich and creamy and just mildly sweet. I thought it went perfectly with the intensely lemony filling.







The lemon curd and cake are both Martha recipes, and I followed the buttercream recipe found on the blog that inspired my cake making festivities. I was very pleased with the mini pans that I had just bought – I think the cakes came out so cute and were small enough that none went to waste!



I added some extra zest to the lemon curd, and I’m glad I did. It was just the right balance of sweet and tart (I am guilty of consuming more than my fair share directly from the bowl). I think this would make a wonderful cake for a shower, Easter, or any spring event. Or if you’re like me and need something to get you through the dismal gloom of March rain/snow mix, this cake is just perfect.



Lightly Lemon Cake

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 8 large egg whites
  • Zest of one lemon


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Beat butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with milk and beginning and ending with flour; beat until just combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy. With mixer running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 4 minutes. Do not overbeat. Gently fold a third of the egg-white mixture into the butter-flour mixture until combined. Fold in remaining whites and lemon zest.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans, bake 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool.

Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cake layers to make level.


Lemon Curd
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • Zest of 3 lemons
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
  • 12 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces


Directions:

Whisk together yolks, zest, juice, and sugar in a small saucepan. Set over medium heat, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon, 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove pan from heat. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, stirring until incorporated. Pass through a fine mesh sieve into medium bowl. Stirring frequently, let stand until cool.

Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on surface of curd to prevent skin from forming; wrap tightly. Refrigerate until firm and chilled, at least 1 hour. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.


Swiss Meringue Buttercream

adapted slightly from sweetapolita (I added less vanilla for fear of overpowering the lemon. I shouldn’t have worried as the filling was not subtly lemon at all, but the frosting was nice and mellow this way)

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt


Whisk egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a double boiler (or the bowl of your stand mixer over a pot of simmering water) until temperature reaches 140 degrees.

Whip mixture until it is thick and glossy, and has cooled. With the paddle attachment of your mixer, continue to beat the mixture constantly while adding in the cubed, softened butter. Beat until smooth. If yours separates (as mine did, which was mildly alarming) don’t worry – just continue to beat it and have some faith. It will come back together.

Once all the butter has been added and the frosting has reached creamy perfection, mix in your vanilla and salt. Now you’re all set – pipe away!

To Assemble:
Cake. Lemon Curd. Cake. Lemon Curd. Cake. Pipe/slather with frosting. Consume happily.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mexican Casserole - 6.5 Weight Watcher Points




A full flavored Mexican casserole that will not leave you feeling hungry and the leftovers are great for freezing and eating later. Serve with chopped green onions or lettuce and plenty of sour cream,,  only 6.5 weight watcher points per LARGE serving! YUM! (on the new, Points Plus system of Weight Watchers, this recipe is 9 points),,

Mexican Casserole - 6.5 Weight Watcher Points

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef (drained or rinsed!)
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup canned jalapeno slices, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped or 1 (15 ounce) can diced canned tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kernel corn (drained)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 (1 1/4 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 3/4 cup nonfat sour cream
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend, shredded
  • 1/3 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped, to taste


Directions:

Brown ground beef and chopped onions in large skillet; brown 10 to 12 minutes or until thoroughly cooked, stirring constantly. Drain well and rinse with warm water to remove all fat; return beef/onions to skillet.

Add corn, black beans, tomatoes, chilies/jalapenos and taco seasoning mix; mix well. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes.

Meanwhile spray 12x8-inch (2-quart) baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cut each tortilla in half; place 8 halves in bottom of sprayed baking dish, overlapping slightly.

Spoon half of beef mixture evenly over tortillas. Spoon sour cream over beef mixture; spread evenly. Top with remaining 8 tortilla halves and remaining beef mixture. (Cover tightly with foil & Freeze for later OR cook as directed below…).

(Thaw overnight if frozen) Heat oven to 350ºF. Bake at 350ºF for 25 minutes. Remove from oven; sprinkle with cheese. Cover; let stand 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve with fresh chopped lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, black olives, etc… /.

Makes 6 large Servings at 6.5 weight watcher pts/each.



Sunday, May 1, 2011

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Trifle





There’s nothing trifling about this dessert that has it all: peanut butter, cookies and creamy chocolate pudding. 


Peanut Butter-Chocolate Trifle

12 servings, 2/3 cup each

Ingredients:
  • 1 pkg.  (3.9 oz.) JELL-O Chocolate Instant Pudding
  • 1 pkg.  (3.4 oz.) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
  • 3 cups  cold milk, divided
  • 1/4 cup  PLANTERS Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1 tub  (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed, divided
  • 30 chocolate chip cookies (2 inch), chopped
  • 3 Tbsp.  chocolate syrup


Instructions:

EMPTY pudding mixes into separate medium bowls. Add 1-1/2 cups milk to each; beat with whisk 2 min. Add peanut butter to vanilla pudding; beat until well blended. Stir 1/2 cup COOL WHIP into pudding in each bowl.

SPOON chocolate pudding mixture into 2-qt. serving bowl; cover with layers of half each of the remaining COOL WHIP and chopped cookies. Repeat layers, using vanilla pudding mixture.

DRIZZLE with syrup. 



Tips:

Size-Wise
Sweets can be part of a balanced diet but remember to keep tabs on portions.

Special Extra
Top chocolate pudding layer with 2 sliced bananas before covering with remaining layers as directed.

Make Ahead
Prepare trifle as directed but do not top with syrup. Refrigerate up to 6 hours. Drizzle with syrup just before serving.