Monday, March 31, 2008

Carrot Cake with Toasted Coconut and Cream Cheese Icing

I'm playing catch up with all the stuff I haven't posted yet...this is a cake that I made for Easter Sunday at my parents house. Norm and I made the trek to Johnstown to see my parents and grandmother and spend some quality time with them over Easter weekend. My mom will tell you that she doesn't "bake"...but I have learned most of what I know about cooking and baking from her. As I get holder, she asks me more and more to make desserts for family get-togethers. Which I don't mind (and neither do they!) because I can take the opportunity to try out new recipes on them.

This was a cake that I found on the Food Network site, courtesy of Eating Well magazine. I knew I wanted to make a cake, but make a healthier version of a classic...this fit the bill perfectly! It uses whole wheat pastry flour, and I subsituted Splenda for baking for the sugar, and egg beaters for the eggs to keep it lighter.

Instead of the 9x13 pan, I made a layer cake of 2-9" cake rounds and used 2 packages of cream cheese. I also had 1/2 a bar of dark chocolate that I chopped up into the cake batter for a little surprise. I baked everything at home, then assembled it at their house. In my haste, I forgot my camera, but snapped a few shots as we were 1/2 way thru it with my mom's camera. I'll have to post the pics when she sends them to me. Everyone raved about it...and my mom requested that I make it again for our family's 4th of July party this summer! It was definitely a hit = )

Carrot Cake
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained, juice reserved
2 cups grated carrots (4-6 medium)
1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

2 tablespoons coconut chips or flaked coconut
12 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

To prepare cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Toast walnuts in a small baking pan in the oven until fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes.

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Whisk eggs, sugar, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and 1/4 cup of the reserved pineapple juice in a large bowl until blended. Stir in pineapple, carrots and coconut.

Add the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until blended. Stir in the nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly.

Bake the cake until the top springs back when touched lightly and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare frosting & finish cake: Place coconut in a small baking pan and toast in the oven at 300 degrees F, stirring several times, until light golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Spread the frosting over the cooled cake. Sprinkle with the coconut.

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

We try to eat a lot of fish as part of our whole "healthy eating" plan. Tilapia is a fish that's very versatile, so this is another food that we keep trying new things with since we have it so much!

I found this recipe on Rachel Ray's Web site. Say what you will about Rachel, but she has some damn tasty recipes! I served this with some simply prepared butternut squash (with a touch of butter, salt and pepper) and french-cut green beans.

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

(Source: Rachel Ray)

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspooons paprika
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 tilapia fillets (about 1 pound total)
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400ยบ. In a shallow dish, combine the cheese with the paprika and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the fish with olive oil and dredge in the cheese mixture. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until the fish is opaque in the thickest part, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve the fish with the lemon wedges.

Veal Oscar (sort of...)

We had bought a giant package of veal scallopini at Costco one day with the thought of making veal parmesan, but that quickly changed over to Veal Oscar once we were wondering around the grocery store and came up with some asparagus and fresh crab meat.

I have had bad experiences with making sauces from scratch in the past, and being crunched on time for between working out and trying to get work done at home, we settled for bearnaise sauce from a packet. Which probably isn't as good as homemade, but is pretty reliable and tasty. We didn't really use a recipe, just kind of winged it and hoped for the best! We served it with simple side of Italian green beans seasoned with a little lemon, salt and pepper.

Veal Oscar
flour - i used whole wheat pastry flour
garlic salt
veal, pounded thin
crab meat
shallot (minced)
garlic (minced)
bearnaise sauce (made according to directions on package)
asparagus (blanched or steamed until crisp-tender and keep warm)
olive oil
Season flour with salt, pepper, garlic salt. Pre-heat large pan over medium heat, coat pan with cooking spray. Dredge veal in flour. Add 1 T of olive oil and butter to pan. Add veal into pan. Let cook for 3 minutes, flip over and let it cook on the other side. While the veal is cooking, heat another pan over medium heat, coated with cooking spray. Add shallot, cook until tender and add garlic, cook one minute. Add crab meat and heat thru.
To plate, lay veal on plate, top with crab and asparagus and spoon bearnaise sauce over it.

Chili Cumin Pork Tenderloin

This recipe comes courtesy of one of my favorite blogs Janet Is Hungry. We seem to eat a lot of pork tenderloin, so we're always looking for new ways to cook it....spicy rubs, glazes, name it!

This spice rub was delicious, and we can't wait until the weather gets warmer to fire up the grill and grill the tenderloin. I cut the tenderloin into medallions, and rubbed the spice mix over each slice before letting sit for 30 minutes before cooking. We used our grill pan to cook it, and served the pork with butternut squash and mixed veggies.
Chili Cumin Pork Tenderloin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1. Mix spices together and rub generously all over pork
2. Let the pork sit for about 30 minutes.
3. Grill pork on BBQ for 20-25 minutes, or until desired doneness.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Seafood Enchiladas

We've been trying to clean out the freezer....trying. It seems that as soon as we clear some room outta there, we just jam it up again. *sigh* There's probably things in there that we totally forgot about, just waiting to become part of some culinary masterpiece. = )

So, inspired by the success of our beefy enchiladas and a package of mixed seafood - shrimp, scallops and calamari - from Trader Joe's, we figured we could make a fun variation on the original recipe. Instead of the traditional red enchilada sauce, we used a green enchilada sauce, and complemented it with some fat-free refried pinto beans flavored with green chilies....and of course topped them with shredded lettuce, tomato, olives, avocado, and sour cream. Delish!

Cottage Cheese Seafood Enchiladas
(Source: adapted from a recipe on

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (skipped this and just used cooking spray)
1 lb frozen seafood medley (trader joe's)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 chopped jalapeno
1 chopped habanero
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (7 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
1 T chili powder (approximate amounts of this and the cumin, i did it to taste)
1 tsp cumin
1 T cilantro
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups cottage cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
5 whole wheat large tortillas
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (reduced fat shredded mexican blend)
1 can green enchilada sauce

To Make Meat Mixture: Heat a medium skillet with cooking spray over medium high heat. Add seafood, garlic, onion and green chile peppers and saute until browned, then add seasoning (chili powder, cumin) to taste. Stir until well incorporated.

To Make Cheese Mixture: In a medium bowl mix sour cream with cottage cheese and season with salt and pepper; stir until well blended.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
To Assemble Enchiladas: Heat tortillas until soft. In each tortilla place a spoonful of meat mixture, a spoonful of cheese mixture and a bit of shredded cheese. Roll tortillas and place in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Top with any remaining meat and cheese mixture, enchilada sauce and remaining shredded cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted & bubbly.