Saturday, March 31, 2007

Something new added to my repetoire...

Coulis = koo ~ lee
a sauce made with puréed vegetables or fruit and used as a base or garnish.

I have had raspberry coulis many times while dinning out. It is usually served/ordered by me with some decadent white chocolate dessert that I probably shouldn't have ordered in the first place - but then never to be one to refuse the aforementioned. I always think this sauce must be easy to make, I must look into doing so.
One of the reasons is I am needing to use up items in the freezer cause it won't be long now before we move. So I have looked into doing so, in fact I made some

Method so very simple: berry of choice in a blender with a tablespoon or two of honey. Here's the hard part after blended berries must be put thru a fine seive/strainer, need to remove the seeds.
Now I must come up with a Heart Healthy dessert to go with this yummy sauce. I made raspberry and blueberry coulis from frozen berries~~~stay tuna'd~~~

So start thinking about heart healthy desserts, send as many entries you want to Joanna who is doing the roundup and remember that the last day is 22 of April.

Friday, March 30, 2007

I've solved our dependency on foreign oil

In my attempt to keep cholesterol at bay I'd read about the health benefits of barley. Seems like barley is beneficial in any form, from whole grain to flour. My soup repertoire contains a great Beef Soup that includes barley, and was enjoyed by my family, so serving it as a side dish seemed logical.

Barley doesn't have much flavor on it's own and is better cooked in broth, I choose chicken. For this dish I used:
  • barley
  • pile of chopped fresh spinach
  • smaller pile of grated Parmesan cheese
  • smallest pile of chopped parsley
  • Mrs. Dash
This was mixed together and I felt the top was lacking so about the same amount of cheese mixed with breadcrumbs on the top and dotted with butter. Into a hot oven covered with foil for about 15 minutes then foil off for about 10. This pleased my dearly beloved, he loves spinach, and I felt it was quite tasty. Some of the barley got a bit crunchy on the top. Crunch/cheesy, fits my requirements for food.

Let's have a bit of back story on barley and caution, I will use big scienc-y sounding words.

The reason it's so good for lowering cholesterol is it feeds the "good" bacteria in the lower intestines. When these helpful bacteria ferment barley's insoluble fiber, they produce a short-chain fatty acid called butyric acid, which serves as the primary fuel for the cells of the large intestine and helps maintain a healthy colon. Whew, stay with me. Also, the sugar in barley is what ferments in beer making those lovely bubbles, burb. Excuse me.

Did ya notice I used "ferment" a few times in that last paragraph? Well that's what those lovely little pearls of barley do, ferment in your body and barley doesn't care if you are making beer or just eating better, it's gonna make gas, and lots of it. Forget ethanol, use barley! I think I'm switching to barley flour bread, it's safer.

All kidding aside, barley is good for fighting colon cancer. If you'd like to see some other health ideas, visit Mele Cotte's Event, Fighting Cancer. The deadline is April 9 so watch for some yummy recipes and ideas by the 13th.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Help!!! French Onion soup..

with no depth of richnes or flavor grrrrrrr!! A favorite soup when dining out, so I thought I'll go to the Panera Bread site and use their recipe found here. I was a tiny bit above bland.
You know when you take that first bite or in this case sip and in your mind it is supposed to taste just like the very same soup you had at the restaurant a couple a weeks ago. Well it wasn't and needless to say we were disappointed.
It was just OK......see it looks good. Tell me what I did wrong please.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

You gonna use that?

Here's another in my ongoing attempt to stop wasting everything.

I'm guilty of the following. You only need a tablespoon of tomato paste for a recipe so you open that little can, use a bit and then what do you do with the rest? You toss it. It's not expensive so why worry. Well, as we are learning it's not so much the expense but the energy it takes to produce something. Don't toss the energy, we're gonna need it later.

I tried buying those toothpaste-tubes of tomato paste and they aren't bad but I really didn't like the flavor all that much. I saw this on a cooking show and thought I give it a try.

Open your little can and remove what you need then spoon out the rest on waxed paper, freeze on a cookie sheet then, when frozen, pop into a zip lock bag and back into the freezer. Now when you only need a bit, fish this lump out, and toss in your pot. It melts quickly and you've saved some energy. The world will thank you.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I forget, are they garbanzo or chickpeas

Ever so often you find a recipe that immediately becomes a standard, this one I found on Kaylyn's Kitchen; Garbanzo, Tomato, and Cilantro Salad. and, as usual, I did some modification. Not that it needed any I just had a ripe avocado and didn't want it to go to waste.

I had a very simple dinner for a visiting friend on Sunday night. BBQ'd Pulled Pork Sandwiches and this great summer salad. My only deviation from the original was to add chopped avocado to the mix which was great.

The dressing was the winner in this recipe so futzing around with some of the ingredients didn't really matter. Though quite simple the dressing had tons of flavor and it looks good with all the bright colors.

Let's talk about some of the benefits of Garbanzos. They contain high levels of folate which tests show are beneficial in:
  • Support red blood cell production and help prevent anemia
  • Help prevent homocysteine build-up in your blood
  • Support cell production, especially in your skin
  • Allow nerves to function properly
  • Help prevent osteoporosis-related bone fractures
  • Help prevent dementias including Alzheimer's disease
I like that last one, preventing Alzheimer's disease since my beloved is sure I'm a good candidate. I have a tendency to forget where my purse/keys are so he's looking for good homes to place me. Where ever it is I hope they serve this salad.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

From the nostalgia corner of our minds

Ellie at Kitchen Wench is having an event, Nostalgia, memories tied in with food so Doodles and Moon bumped their heads together and came up with this. The deadline is 3/23/07 so there is still time to send her your thoughts. Here's ours.

When my sister and I were young, seven and fourteen we had just moved to Southern California and as parents do ours made friends and these friends were happy to introduce our family to many sites and tastes we did not have in Indiana.

I'm sure our parents ate chili at one time or another but it wasn't common fare at our table. The place these friends took us to was the Night Hawk Cafe. It was a typical diner, stools with a few tables but they only had one thing on the menu, chili size. Having it with or without onions and cheese was the only choice on the menu.

The diner was about two blocks from the Los Angeles Coliseum and I think it was there when they had the first Olympics in the 30s. There was no decor and I'm not even sure it was all that clean; I remember the windows being greasy on the inside. You didn't go for the ambiance you went for the wonderful spicy mixture ladled over a fried hamburger patty and topped with chopped raw onions and cheese. This came with a french roll and butter. That was it. Simple, the best I've ever tasted and I've been chasing that taste ever since.

Doodles has a pretty good stab at the memory with her version. Little grime on the window and a squeaky stool and we'd be kids again. Ah, nostalgia it's time travel you take in your head.

Chili Size(and no I don't know why it was called that)
under the mound of chili is a small hamburger pattie


1 1/2 lb ground sirloin
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
chili powder to your taste
1 large onion chopped
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
salt & pepper to taste


Brown 1 lb of the beef. Ground beef can be ground finer in a food processor after cooking but before adding rest of ingredients. Add the onions and seasonings and cook another maybe 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and simmer to for 20 - 30 mins. If too thick add low sodium beef broth, if too thin add a bit more tomato sauce.

Now for the interesting part. Make hamburger patties out of the remainder of the ground beef, cook to desired doness that you prefer. Place patties in a wide soup bowl, pour chili on top finish off with chopped onions and shredded cheddar cheese if desired. Serve with a hard roll for sopping up the remainder of the chili. And don't forget your adult beverage. I like a good beer with this dish but serve whatever your pleasure.

Any Los Angelenos remeber this place? Yep nostalgia is a wonderful place to be right about now. Thanks Ellie for coming up with this event.

Friday, March 16, 2007

To my amazement!

Not that each and every food blogger isn't a star in their own right - but - I opened the food section of my paper this morning and see an article titled Memories that make you Hungry. Knowing this writer sometimes writes about food bloggers I started to read and low and behold it is about none other than our very own Ellie of Kitchen Wench. Check out her event on Nostalgia

Better get a move on cause her deadline is March 23. If you just wanna see a great food blog just wander over to read up on the happenings and cooking and musings of the Kitchen Wench

I'm gonna go see if I can find some great nostalgia that also includes, sister moon and lil bird - stay tuna'd!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


now, mooncrazy can tell you about my lifelong distaste for beets. that was before i tasted real beets, not beets from a can. beets from a can taste like pickled dirt. real beets taste sweet and earthy. i am almost ready to pronounce myself a convert.

i got a fabulous collection of beets in my most recent crop share. i love the white and pink striped ones. it was such a surprise when i peeled them and saw that they were white on the outside, then when i cut them in half, i gasped out loud - they look like candy canes!


seriously, aren't they gorgeous?


anyway, i roast them in the convection oven with olive oil and salt. the end product isn't that pretty, so no photo.

anyone know what variety of beets the stripey ones are? [i'm betting kalyn knows!]

beets are an excellent source of vitamin c, which makes them a perfect food for sweetnicks' arf/5-a-day tuesday. check out what other anti-oxidant rich foods are on display over at sweetnicks' site.

Monday, March 12, 2007

We'd sing but we'd lose everyone

If there is any champagne left we'd like to wish one of our very own a Happy Birthday! Doodles, take a bow.

Party when you get here.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

So it was a sign I'm sure...

Not in the sense of a sign like Pisces, Gemini or a Sagittarius. But rather a sign from a fellow blogger Lucullian Delights. Take a look and try to participate in this great good food eating idea.
Lucullian Delights has paired up with another wonderful blogger,
Joanna's Food,
to create this new venture. I am excited about it I hope you are to. The deadline for submitting is March 22nd I do believe. Even if you don't enter, We all know we should go take a look and see what you might enjoy preparing for your family or even just yourself.

For details click here
eat healthier, and please, know I am not promoting any diets here. But since my hunky husband and I are going to be roaming the highways and byways of this wonderful country, I thought what better timing than to put together healthier snacks and meals. And I do believe it is a matter of good planning and habit to eat healthier tastier meals and snacks.

There are many tasty finger food, the first category, out there and mine is...

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus served with Pita Bread Crackers

2 cans (16 ounces each) reduced-sodium garbanzos, rinsed and drained except for 1/4 cup liquid (I bought mine at the health food store) If you cannot find just rinse really well.
1 cup sauteed red peppers*

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

In a blender or food processor, add the garbanzos and roasted red peppers. Process to puree. Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, pepper, paprika, tahini and parsley. Blend well. Add the reserved liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture has the consistency of a thick spread. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Nutritional Analysis
(per serving) Serving size: 2 tablespoons Calories 48 Cholesterol 0 mg Protein 2 g Sodium 106 mg Carbohydrate 6 g Fiber 2 g Total fat 2g Potassium 15 mg Saturated fat 1 g Calcium 15 mg Monounsaturated fat 1 g

*If wanted to use roasted red peppers in a jar, just make sure they are packed in water and not oil.

no pita crackers to be had in this household, but low calories sesame flat bread. Also wanted to put this colorful hummus in one of my pretty depression glass bowls, well guess what, because we are packing up and hitting the road, husband has packed them all away. So plain and simple presentation here.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Weekend Dog Blogging: A trip to Spa Buddy

Last year lil bird and her husband, big bird took a vacation and the lil dogs came to Camp Buddy. This March the doggies decided on a spa vacation so all of them are off to get their nails and fur trimmed.

They didn't have to go far our great groomer, Sheri has a traveling pet grooming van that parks in the front and we hustle the dogs in and out. So easy and less traumatic for the pups. It only takes about an hour a dog and at the the other groomer the poor animals had to hang around in a cage. These are free-range poochies to be sure so this works great for all involved. Well, maybe not Sheri, she did look a bit pooped and wet after Buddy jumped out of the tub.

Here are some before and after shots of the hounds, it's always good to know from whence they came.

Thanks to Sweetnicks for hosting Weekend Dog Blogging. Visit her site on Mondays to see all the other foodie poochies.

Monday, March 05, 2007

anniversary cake for breakfast?

apple almond streusel coffee cake

i felt kinda bad this morning when i realized that of the eleventy-two things i had to do this weekend, i got eleventy-one of them done but i forgot the most important one: make an anniversary cake for pbe. d'oh! then i realized that i actually did, it was just a breakfast coffee cake. yay!

on sundays, i have taken to baking breakfast items that my bunky and i can eat all week long. recently, i have been working on variations of the sour cream streusel coffee cake by nic from bakingsheet. my most recent incarnation was an apple almond sour cream streusel coffee cake. i used nic's basic recipe, except for the following twists: i subbed in 1/3 cup of almond meal for 1/3 cup of the flour; i subbed 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract for 1/4 teaspoon of the vanilla; i added a layer of chopped apples between the cake batter and the streusel topping; and i used almonds in the streusel mixture for the top. the apples increased the cooking time to almost 70 minutes (i baked this in a ceramic dish, so it takes longer anyway). if i had any dried cranberries in the house, i would have added them to the topping and maybe in the batter of the cake itself. cranberries, apples and almonds...yummy combo.

so anyway, happy anniversary to us! amazing that we've stuck with it for a year. for those of you not keeping score, there are three of us: mooncrazy and doodles are sisters and i (maltese parakeet, aka little bird) am mooncrazy's daughter and, hence, doodles' niece. it all started when doodles emailed me some links for food blogs and said she'd sure love to do something like that. i think i had it set up on blogger about five minutes later. the name came from mooncrazy, who had been saving it for a while to use on something good (her punk band never got off the ground). i have really enjoyed myself this past year. it's been a really great way to spend quality time with my geographically dispersed mother and aunt. it's a good excuse to cook more and be adventurous in the kitchen, which i really enjoy. i'm also thrilled to have had the opportunity to get back into photography. but most of all, i have enjoyed getting to know some cool food bloggers all over the country and around the world, with special shout outs to kitchen wench, c for cooking, soul fusion kitchen, copperpots and la vida dulce. so thanks to everyone for reading (and commenting) and keeping it fun for us. we'll try to keep it interesting for you!

A Moon cake

The gently orb in the sky has nothing to do with the cake, it's just I wanted you to know it was from me to celebrate our First Bloggy Anniversary.

This recipe is courtesy of my doctor. Not that he's a cook, he's nagged me once again to get off my duff and shed a pound or ten which makes me head for Cooking Light.

I used the fat-free cream cheese in this recipe but would never put it on a bagel. To me, it had an odd texture. I also used butter, hey it was only 1/2 cup.

Cinnamon-Apple Cake

1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup stick margarine, softened
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 ounces block-style fat-free cream cheese, softened. (about 3/4 cup)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups peeled and chopped Rome apples (about 2 large)
Cooking spray

Beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, margarine, vanilla, and cream cheese at medium speed until well blended (about 4 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture, beating at low speed until blended.

Combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Combine two tablespoons cinnamon sugar mixture with apples and stir apples into batter. Pour batter into an 8-inch springform (I used a 9-inch) pan coated with cooking spray. Top with remaining sugar mixture.

Bake 350 for one hour and fifteen minutes or until cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove and cool the cake on a rack. Cut using a serrated knife. Serves 12

This was served to friends Friday evening with rave reviews even though I served it with Fat Free No Sugar Added Vanilla Ice Cream. The ice cream wasn't that bad though I detected a slight after taste. I'm not a fan of fake-sugar-anything so folks used to diet sodas might not notice. At least it doesn't have High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Congratulations to all three of us for sticking to this blog like mac and cheese does to the dish.

Note: Would you like to print a recipe? Click the following link to download a PDF. Easy to print pdf of recipe

Sunday, March 04, 2007

doodles tooth boo boo get's in way of celebration

The most senior (in age) member of the PBE blog has had a slight set back. It involves a tooth and a dentist, all properly explained here, if you care to read about it.

However this is the cake I was intending to make and for no other reason than when I got my March issue of Cooking Light and I laid eyes on this cake I let out a huge sigh. Perfect I thought!!! I don't make cakes often, in fact seldom, very seldom.

So here I present my Happy Celebration cake to US, Tres Mujares, the three PBE Chicks or as we are more commonly know as Moon, lil bird and doodles.

Italian Cream Cake:

Cooking spray
2 teaspoons cake flour
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 cups cake flour (about 8 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted (yes toasted because it deepens the flavor)
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 large egg whites

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup (5 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese (when I saw this I immediately thought I would use mascarpone cheese instead, I'll let you know)
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°.
To prepare cake, coat bottoms of 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray (do not coat sides of pans). Line bottoms of pans with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray, and dust with 2 teaspoons flour; set aside.
Place 1/3 cup butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating well. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Lightly spoon 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 2 cups flour, baking soda, and salt; stir well. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in pecans, coconut extract, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Beat egg whites with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form (do not overbeat). Fold egg whites into batter; pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350° for 23 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 5 minutes on a wire rack. Loosen cake layers from sides of pans; remove from pans. Remove and discard wax paper. Cool completely.
To prepare frosting, place 1 tablespoon butter and cream cheese in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until smooth (do not overbeat). Add 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat well.
Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with one-third of frosting. Top with other cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

NUTRITION PER SERVINGCALORIES 322(25% from fat); FAT 8.8g (sat 4.6g,mono 2.8g,poly 0.8g); PROTEIN 4.7g; CHOLESTEROL 45mg; CALCIUM 33mg; SODIUM 221mg; FIBER 0.5g; IRON 1.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 56.6g

Think I'll make this cake for an equally big celebration, we are leaving the state of Florida and headed West. Good reason to bake a cake huh? stay tuna'd...

Note: Would you like to print the recipe? Click the following link to download a PDF. Easy to print pdf of recipe

Saturday, March 03, 2007

So make us a cake, already

The PBE women are celebrating our one year anniversary. We thought it would be fun to have a virtual cake to go with our virtual anniversary and since it would be totally self-serving to ask you kind readers so we are making our own.

The year has just scooted by. Our very first post was from lil bird and it was a restaurant review. We've posted a number of Week-end Dog Blogging on Sweetnick's site, some original recipes and reviews and remember when lil bird made Kimchi? Doodle's Unusual Paring has become a standard summer lunch and re-reading my own self-imposed challenge, Please, let them eat cake made me laugh just to remember. Too many cakes!

We've come a long way since last year, have hooked up with some interesting food bloggers and had a hell of a good time playing with our food.

Watch for our three cakes coming soon.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


there is something magical about the combination of spinach and phyllo dough. i was thrilled, therefore, to read mele cotte's post on spanakopita . it actually looked easy to make! so i gave it a try. and then i remembered why i hate working with phyllo dough. ugh, it always comes with giant tears down the center! anyway, i was excited to try this recipe because i had some spinach from our crop share and i had just made my first foray into homemade cheese. i tried out michael chiarello's fresh ricotta recipe - so easy! a gallon of milk, a quart of buttermilk and some heat. what could be simpler? (notes, i would only drain it about 10 minutes next time). here's the ricotta:

homemade ricotta

and thanks to mele cotte, the spanakopita turned out great: