Monthly Archives: April 2010

The 30 Cake

Just a quick update.

This past weekend, the wife and I were asked to do a birthday cake for a friend (our first officially commissioned cake). Oh… and we had less than 24 hours to get the supplies, the theme and the cake baked and out the door. Outside of the fact that we used the cake recipe for the Easter cake, there is not much more of story behind this. I just wanted to share the final result.

Bison Ribeye over Root Vegetables with Honey Butter Sauce

Today is the second sous-vide cooking experiment and I’ve picked Bison for the experiment.  I debated on doing the Bison in the over at a low temp for a long period of time, but still went with the sous-vide method instead.

Ok, you’ll need…

1 Bison Ribeye, sous-vide cooked to your liking

1 carrot, cubed

1 parsnip, cubed

1 Sweet Potato, cubed

1 Red Potato, you guessed it.. cubed

1/4 lb tilapia filet

Salt and Pepper to taste

Freshly chopped dill, oregano, thyme

And for the sauce…

1) 3/4 cup of heavy cream

2) 2 tbsp of honey

3) 1/2 stick of butter

Here we go…

1. In one pan, with a thin layer of peanut oil, place your root vegetables over a medium heat and fry (while stirring) for 3 to 6 minutes.  Add salt and pepper while stirring.  After cooking, remove from heat and drain.  Place back into pan.

2. In a second pan, quickly heat your tilapia filet with a bit of olive oil over a medium flame.  Cook for one to two minutes on each side… be careful as it will cook very quickly. After you’ve quickly pan seared it, remove and cut into chunks. (but save the pan)

3. Back to the original pan vegetable pan now. Add your chunked tilapia, as well as your dill, oregano, thyme and sir. Continue to heat/stir over a low heat for another 3 to 4 minutes, then remove from heat.

4. Time for the honey butter sauce. In a small pot, over a medium flame, add your cream and butter (a little salt as well if you would like) and mix.  When the butter is fully melted, whisk in the honey. Heat for another 2 minutes and remove from heat.

5. Transfer your vegetable/tilapia mix to the tilapia pan, set side.

6. Take your beet, shave slices off and roast for a few minutes under a high flame. Remove and set aside.

7. Take your vegetable plan, add a bit of olive oil and put it on a medium-high heat.  Now it is time to sear your ribeye.  Cook on each side for roughly 2 minutes each.

8. Plate and Enjoy!

I love the Vegetable/Tilapia Mix, especially with the Honey Butter Sauce. I am a huge fan of Bison, and usually do not season it when cooking… to me the natural taste is good enough.  Now, if you do want to season it I would strongly suggest a light seasoning as one can easily overwhelm the natural flavors of the meat.


Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken with Poblano Peppers and Sun Dried Tomatoes

I was introduced to a new form a cooking: Sous-vide.

A quick lesson – Sous-vide is a form of cooking that utilizes submerging a vacuum sealed bag which contains your meat of choice into water that holds a constant temperature. The water is usually a lower temperature, and the meat is kept in for an extended period of time in order to provide a uniformly cooked meat.

Now, Sous-vide machines cost a pretty penny; however, one can accomplish the same results with… a beer cooler.  I kid you not.

Feel free to read up on how to sous-vide cooking as my intent isn’t to provide a tutorial on the subject, rather to give you my first sous-vide dish – Prosciutto wrapped Chicken with Poblano Peppers and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Needed For the Dish

2 Skinless Chicken Breasts


4 pieces of thinly sliced prosciutto

2 slices of fresh mozzarella

1 large Poblano Pepper, diced

1 cup Diced Sun Dried Tomatoes, in oil

1 Small Shallot, diced

1 tsp honey

2 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp olive oil

Note – you’ll also need tooth picks and oil for frying.

1. Place your chicken in a zip lock bag and remove the air (vacuum machine or submerge in water to use the pressure of the water to remove the air).

2. Fill a cooler with water heated to 150 degrees, place bag in cooler and seal and let it sit in there for about 100 minutes. Make sure to check the temp roughly every 30 minutes. If your temp drops below 145, add more water.

3. In the remaining 20 minutes, place your 1 teaspoon of oil into a medium sized skillet with your peppers, sun dried tomatoes (in oil) and shallot. Cook over medium high heat for roughly 5 minutes, and then reduce heat to medium-low and mix in honey and soy sauce.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Then reduce heat to low while stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

4. Remove chicken from cooler, pat down.

5. Place a slice of mozzarella on top of the chicken, wrap with prosciutto, and fry (not deep fry) in oil for roughly 2 minutes per side.

6. Plate, cover with your pepper/tomato sauce, and serve with a green salad

This was one of the freshest, moist, pieces of chicken I’ve ever had in my life. The prosciutto and the sauce add the perfect touch for the topping… I cannot – cannot – wait to try this when cooking steak!


Vanju's Deep Fried, Perfectly Seasoned Calamari

A few days back Monica, over at Cucina Naturale, made a Baked Calamari with cornbread crumbs. That got me all excited to go out and make my own Calamari. So, why is this called Vanju’s Calamari?  Well, my sous-chef demanded credit for her efforts  in the venture. Credit where credit it due.

For the Calamari:

1. 1/2 cup white flour

2. 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs

3. 1 tsp Garlic Powder

4. 1 tsp Ground Tumeric

5. 1 tsp Onion Powder

6. 2 tsp Paprika

7. 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper

8. 1/4 tsp Chili Powder

9. 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

10. 1 nice sized Calamari tube, cut into rings

For the deep frying:

1. 2 eggs, whisked

2. 32 oz of peanut oil

This is very, very easy… really…

1. Heat up your oil in a nice sized pan, deep enough to fully submerge the cut Calamari

2. Mix your spices, flour and breadcrumbs until ingredients are fully blended

3. Take your calamari, place them into the whisked eggs

4. Take calamari, one by one, out of the eggs and place into the spice/breadcrumb mixture and fully cover.

5. Place into peanut oil for two minutes, then make sure you turn the calamari and continue frying for another two minutes.

Drain, remove grease and enjoy!

I was worried that the batter would have too much kick, but no, it had a nice kick, but not overpowering. In many ways it almost would taste like popcorn shrimp… and it was the perfect start for the Fettuccine with Shrimp.

Thanks for the inspiration, Monica!

Fettuccine with Shrimp, Zucchini, and Summer Squash

Well, it is spring time in Chicago and thought it would be a good day for a spring-esque dish. What better than some Fettuccine and some fresh veggies. For this dish you’ll need:

1. 1/2 lb of Fettuccine

2. 3 tbsp of butter

3. 1 cup of chicken stock

4. 1/4 cup fresh basil, 1/4 cup fresh oregano, 1/4 cup fresh arugula

5. One diced shallot

6. A pinch of salt and freshly cracked pepper

7. 1 lb of cooked shrimp

8. 1 small Zucchini, sliced

9. 1 small Summer Squash, sliced

10. 1 tbsp minced garlic

11. 1 small head of Broccoli, chopped


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, cook pasta.

2. While the pasta is cooking, place the chicken stock, garlic and soft butter into a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Let simmer for 3 minutes.

3. Add basil, oregano, arugula and shallot. Simmer for 3 minutes.

4. Add Broccoli, Zucchini, Summer Squash and shrimp. Simmer for 10 minutes – make sure to stir!

5. By now your pasta should be done.  Remove for the flame, drain the pasta, then place it back into the original pot.  Pour in your shrimp/veggie sauce and serve!

Now, I understand that I haven’t done much cooking as of late… so my taste buds may be a bit off… but this was, by far, the best dish I have EVER made.

No, I’m not kidding. Hands down, the best dish I’ve ever made.

The sauce was very light. The Zucchini, Broccoli, and Summer Squash were perfectly tender and the shrimp absorbed just enough of the sauce to retain a perfect balance of the sauce and the shrimp itself.

I’d cook this up and serve it to anyone who stops by, and I strongly suggest you give it a try!

Oh… and up tomorrow… the Calamari dish that was an appetizer for this meal.

Avocado and Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

This past weekend the wife and I were on the road and, as a result, aside from the luxurious steak dinner at Ruth’s Chris, we basically had nothing much but fast food. So, as I arrived home early yesterday evening I wanted to jump into the kitchen and make something healthy. The result is my newly created Avocado and Crab Stuffed Mushrooms.

You’ll need:

1. 3/4th cup of heavy whipping cream

2. 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs

3. 1 cup of spinach, chopped

4. 2 tsp of worchestire sauce

5. 1/2 tsp of sea salt

6. 1 tsp of freshly cracked black pepper

7. Pinch of Onion powder

8. 2 half cups of fresh crab meat (claws)

9. 2 half cups of Mozzarella, shredded

10. 2 Large Portobello mushrooms

11. 1 Tomato, diced

12. 1 Avocado


1) Pre-heat your oven to 350.

2) Mix breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and onion powder

3) Add cream, worchestire sauce and mix

4) Add spinach, 1 half cup of crab meat and 1 half cup of Mozzarella. Mix. This will give you a nice consistency for the stuffing, which will allow you to create a nice stuffing patty for your mushrooms.

5) Place your stuffing in your mushroom caps, top with the remaining crab meat, cheese and tomatoes. Cut and spoon out avocado meat onto the mushrooms.

6) Bake for 25 mins at 350.

Serve and enjoy!

Some good eats here!

Texas Sheet Cake

I don’t ever recall having this before.  I just saw the picture of a simple chocolate cake that serves a small crowd people and that filled the need I had for this past weekend’s festivities.  This turned out different – GOOD different – than I expected as this was not the way I had ever made chocolate cake before!

2 tsp all purpose flour

2 c all purpose flour

2 c granulated sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 c water

1/2 c butter

1/2 c unsweetened cocoa, divided

1/2 c low fat buttermilk

1 tbsp vanilla extract, divided

2 large eggs

6 tbsp butter

1/3 c fat free milk

3 c powdered sugar

1/4 c chopped pecans, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 375. Coat a 13 x9 in pan with cooking spray, dust with 2 tsp flour.

2. Combine 2 c flour with next 4 ingredients in a large bowl, stir with a whisk.  Combine 3/4 c water, 1/2 c butter, and 1/4 c cocoa in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Add to flour mixture.  Beat with a mixer at med speed until well blended.  Add buttermilk, 1 tsp vanilla, and eggs; beat well.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 22 – 25 mins (closer to 25 for me).  Place on a wire rack.

3. Combine 6 tbsp butter, fat free milk, and remaining 1/4 c cocoa in a saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and gradually stir in powdered sugar and remaining 2 tbsp vanilla.  Spread over hot cake.  Sprinkle with pecans.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  Makes 20 servings.

I wish I had alternate views of an actual slice for you but I had to leave the party a bit early to go to work.  My husband saved me a slice and I ate it by the time I remembered I needed another pic :-p  Anyway, as you can see the frosting has a light crispness to the very surface.  The frosting is distinct yet the moistness of the cake (I believe d/t the buttermilk) blends nicely with it and gives it a definite richness.  Very good! I would definitely make this again for a large event.  You can make this the night before and let it cool overnight to save you time.

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 298

Fat: 10 g

Protein: 3.1 g

Carbohydrate: 49.8 g

Fiber: 0.5 g

Cholesterol: 44 mg

Sodium: 188 mg

Lasagna Rolls

There’s always room for pasta.  We all love it. Even low-carbers hate the fact they dream about it.  So here’s another way to satiate that desire.  This was a nice change of pace from the traditional layered dish but was just as filling.


8 uncooked lasagna noodles

4 tsp olive oil

1/2 c finely chopped onion

1-8 0z pkge sliced mushrooms

1-6 oz pkge baby spinach

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 c mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/2 c part skim ricotta cheese

1/4 c minced fresh basil, divided

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper


1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 (7 oz) bottle roasted red bell peppers, undrained

1/8 tsp crushed red pepper

1. For lasagna, cook noodles according to package direction, omitting salt and fat. Drain and rinse with cold water.

2. Heat oil in skillet over med-high heat.  Add onion, mushroom, spinach and garlic – saute for 5 mins or until veggies are tender.  Remove from heat and stir in cheeses, 2 tbsp basil, salt and red pepper.

3. For sauce, place your sauce ingredients into a blender and  process until smooth.

4. Place cooked noodles on flat surface; spread 1/3 c cheese mixture over each noodle.  Roll up noodles, jelly-roll fashion, starting with short side.  Place rolls, seam-side down, in a shallow 2 qt microwave safe dish.  Pour 1/4 c sauce over each roll and cover with heavy duty plastic wrap.  Microwave at HIGH 5 mins and sprinkle with remaining basil.  Makes 4 servings of 2 rolls each.

As you can see the sauce, at first, was more watery than I anticipated but I had to let it sit for a bit.  The sauce was fine after a few more minutes.  The rolls were also a bit ‘flatter’ than I expected.  Other than that the taste was great!  I’m sure you can substitute some of the veggies for a meat if you wanted more substance to them.  I served this was a side of sauteed asparagus – yum!   If only I had gelato. . . .

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 393

Fat: 11.7 g

Protein: 19.3 g

Carbohydrate: 58.3 g

Fiber: 5.9 g

Cholesterol: 20 mg

Sodium: 924 mg

Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia Sandwiches with Lime Butter

Okay. . .now we’re talkin’.  This was fabulous!  I love fish to begin with but I always feel guilty after eating fish that is super-fried (albeit delicious) and greasy.  The ‘batter’ here had lots of flavor – top it off with the lime butter – MWAH!

3 tbsp yellow cornmeal

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/8 tsp ground pepper (I used a bit more than this)

4 (6-oz) tilapia fillets

2 tbsp butter, softened

1 tsp grated lime rind

1/2 tsp fresh lime juice

4 (1.5 oz) french bread rolls, toasted

tomato slices

shredded red leaf lettuce

1. preheat broiler

2. Combine first 6 ingredients in a shallow dish (breading trays are ideal).  Coat both sides of fish with cooking spray.  Dredge fish in cornmeal mixture.

3. Place fish on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray.  Broil 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily.

4. Combine butter, rind, and juice in a small bowl; stir well.

5. Assemble your sandwich – serve with side of choice – I decided on classic coleslaw :)  Makes 4 servings.


Nutritional Information:

Calories: 345

Fat: 9.9 g

Protein: 39.2 g

Carbohydrate: 26.3 mg

Fiber: 2 g

Cholesterol: 100 mg

Sodium: 708 mg

Falafel Pitas

I was ‘iffy’ about trying these but it seemed easy enough.  At least it was labeled ‘quick and easy’ by the creator of this recipe (more comments about this later).  And for some reason I couldn’t recall trying falafel in the past and loving it.  So why I chose to do this. . .no clue.   The recipe calls for using your food processor which I rarely use so maybe this added to the already existing ‘unfamiliar’ feeling.  Well, here goes:

1/4 c plain dry breadcrumbs

1/4 c fresh flat leaf parsely leaves

2 tbsp chopped green onion

1 tbsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp salt

1 (15 oz)  can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)

1 lg egg

1 chopped garlic clove

pinch of ground red pepper

1/4 cup shredded seeded peeled cucumber

1/3 c plain 2% fat free Greek yogurt (I love Fage)

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1/8 tsp salt

2-6in pitas, whole wheat, cut in half

4 Bibb or mixed lettuce leaves

tomato slices

1. Combine first 10 ingredients in your food processor and process until finely chopped.  Divide mixture into 4 equal portions and shape each into a 1/2 thick patty.  Heat your skillet over med-high heat.  Coat with spray and cook 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned (I’d say almost 5 mins).

2. Combine cucumber and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl.  Assemble your pita and top each patty with a bout 1 tbsp cucumber mixture. Makes 4 servings.

. . .served with couscous :9

It turned out very well but I think the prep was more time-consuming than I expected (or maybe it was the mood I was in that day, who knows).  I don’t think I would have changed anything but I’m not sure I would make it again. (Sigh)

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 220

Fat: 4.4 g

Protein: 10.4 g

Carbohydrate: 37.2 g

Fiber: 6.7 g

Cholesterol: 54 mg

Sodium: 617 mg