Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cream Cheese Brownies

So I was in the mood to make brownies while I was studying for the internal medicine board. So I took this Cooking Light Cream Cheese Brownie recipe over to my friend's apartment to be used as a study break. Here are our results. : )

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup fat free milk
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (8 ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (14 ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. To prepare brownies, coat bottom of a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray (do not coat sides)
3. Place butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy. Add sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add egg whites and 1 egg, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add cocoa and 1/2 cup milk; beat well (mixture will appear curdled). Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; stir with a whisk. Add to cocoa mixture; beat at low speed just until blended. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
4. To prepare topping, place cream cheese in a large bowl and beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Gradually add cornstarch and remaining 3 ingredients; beat until smooth. Spread evenly over batter. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until set. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 36 bars. Yield: 3 dozen (serving size: 1 brownie)

Calories: 131 (29% from fat)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fudgy Sheet Cake

So one of good friend's birthdays was on June 18th. To celebrate her birthday, a group of friends and I went to Star Pizza in Houston. For this momentous occasion, I searched my pantry to see what I had and discovered that I had most of the ingredients to make Fudgy Sheet Cake from my Cooking Light Complete Cookbook.

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup low-fat buttermilk

3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup 1% low fat milk
2 teaspoon butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit
2. To prepare cake, combine 1/2 cup cocoa and water in a small bowl; cool. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Place granulated sugar, shortening and 2 teaspoons vanilla in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until well after each addition. Beat in cocoa mixture. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating well after each addition.
3. Pour batter into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 28 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack.
4. To prepare frosting, combine powdered sugar and 1/3 cup cocoa in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add milk, butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla; stir with a whisk until smooth.

Yields: 16 servings Calories: 260 (21% from fat) per slice

I took this cake to the party and it was readily enjoyed by everyone. Feedback was positive. My own first impression of this cake was moist and soft. I enjoyed it. Overall, this cake was really easy to make and I will definitely make it again. It is a good chocolate cake stand by. The cake deserves 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Mustard Sauce

I impulsively bought a Food & Wine Quick from Scratch Chicken Cookbook a couple of weeks ago that I saw while I was waiting in line at the grocery store. I felt a little guilty buying a book next to the bubble gum, but I reasoned the purchase as acceptable because I have TONS of chicken in my freezer that I don't know what to do with it all. After perusing the book the day I purchased it, I spotted this recipe and I have been dying to make it ever since. I finally had time today and went for it. I was even bold enough to have my neighbors come over for dinner to taste my experiment.

1 cup pecans
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons water
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (~1 1/3 lbs in all)
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons grainy or Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon white-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1) In a food processor, pulse the pecans with the cornstarch, thyme, paprika, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne until the nuts are chopped fine. Transfer the mixture into a medium bowl.
2) Whisk together the egg and the water in a small bowl. Dip each chicken breast into the egg mixture and then into the nut mixture.
3) In a large nonstick frying pan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Turn and continue cooking until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes longer.
4) Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, sugar, parsley, a pinch of cayenne, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Serve the chicken with the mustard dipping sauce.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10-11 minutes
Serves: 4

On a scale of 0 to 5, I give this chicken a 4.5. It was awesome. Period. I can't think of a way to make this recipe better in fact. To prepare for people coming over for dinner, I prepared the chicken coating and mustard dipping sauce several hours before dinner. So when the neighbors got here, all I had to do was place the chicken on the stove. The chicken took about 12 minutes to cook. (6 minutes on each side). It tasted moist and the nutty crust was delicious. The mustard dipping sauce complemented the chicken wonderfully. However, the chicken by no means needed the mustard dipping sauce. It was moist enough on its own to eat alone. The sauce was just an added bonus. I will definitely make this recipe again. It was easy, fast and delicious.

Carrot Cake Cookies

The past couple of weeks have been super busy. However, I have not been working at the hospital as usual. It is wedding season and I have been traveling to and from Houston every weekend to go to either a wedding or a bachelorette party. I missed the kitchen and decided to dedicate most of the day to cooking. I started off by trying this Carrot Cake Cookie recipe from a Brand Name Favorites Cookbook that my friend Jill owns.

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 stick of butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup grated carrots (about 2)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins

1) Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.
2) Melt the butter. Mix the butter, egg, vanilla and brown sugar together.
3) Sift the flour in a second bowl. Add cinnamon, baking soda, and salt to the sifted flour and mix.
4) Slowly add the dry mixture to the liquid mixture while mixing with beaters.
5) Add the carrots, walnuts and raisins last to the mixture and stir in with a spoon.
6) Bake cookies 12-14 mins

Recipe makes 3 dozen.

Overall, these cookies were moist and soft. They did not have the same consistency as a cookie and had a cake like consistency much like their name implies. However, the cookies did not taste like the typical carrot cake. The carrot taste was minimal. I typically like a more carroty taste to my carrot cake and these cookies tasted more doughy. My favorite part of the cookie was the raisins and if you choose to make these cookies the raisins are a must. I give this recipe 3.5 stars out of 5. I enjoyed the cookies but will definitely modify the recipe if I ever made it again in the future. I will possibly add more cinnamon and carrots in the future if I make these again.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mexican Wedding Cookies

This past weekend I went home to visit my family. My sister, Andrea, loves being in the kitchen. I talked her into trying this Mexican Wedding Cookie recipe from Martha Stewart's Cookie Book. It didn't take much of an effort on my part to sway her into baking with me. : ) She has been wanting to make this recipe ever since we bought the book. So we gathered all of the ingredients together and baked in the comfort of my mother's kitchen. While we baked, my mom reminisced about her grandmother baking a similar style Mexican Wedding Cookie. Her grandmother use to make these cookies and then would place them in tin boxes with powdered sugar lining the bottom to give to friends.


5 ounces whole blanched almonds (1 cup), plus 40 more for decorating
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 large egg white, beaten


1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread 1 up almonds on a rimmed baking sheet; toast until fragrant, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a shallow bowl and set aside to cool.

2. Place toasted almonds, flour, salt, and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor; process until nuts are finely chopped, about 1 minute.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and 1 cup confectioners' sugar on medium until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add vanilla and almond extracts; beat until combined. Add the chopped-almond mixture; beat on low speed until dough just comes together.

4. Roll dough into twenty 1.5 inch diameter balls; place on two clean baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball slightly.

5. Place the 40 remaining whole almonds and 1 tablespoon beaten egg white in a small bowl; toss to coat. Press two almonds into top of each cookie.

6. Bake cookies until lightly browned around the edges, about 25 minutes, rotating halfway through. Transfer sheets to a wire rack; let rest until cookies are cool enough to handle.

7. Place remaining 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar in a fine mesh sieve. Sift sugar over cookies, reserving any remaining sugar. Return cookies to baking sheets. Let cookies cool 15 minutes, and coat with sugar again. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

I followed the recipe fairly closely this time. I didn't have whole blanched almonds so I settled for sliced blanched almonds. In addition, I left the cookies in the oven for a total of 21 minutes instead of 25 at 325, but I think this is fairly oven dependent.

The cookies turned out wonderfully. On a scale of 0 to 5 stars, I give these a 5. I was quite surprised by how delicious they tasted. I savored each bite as it melted in my mouth. Mexican Wedding Cookies are suppose to crumble in your hands and these did just that. I actually had to be careful not to drop crumbs on the ground. However this being said, I have had dry tasting Mexican Wedding Cookies in the past and these certainly did not taste dry. These were the correct moistness. The blend of almonds and sugar were just right in these cookies and I will definitely make them again. I think they are worthy of a special occasion as well. Quite possibly, these are the perfect cookies for a wedding shower. I guess they are called Mexican Wedding Cookies for a reason! : )