Sunday, March 30, 2008

'Daring' Easter Cake!

This month's Daring Bakers' Challenge (click HERE to see all the other participants!) was Dorie Greenspan's 'Perfect Party Cake.' I thought that the family Easter/Bday (x3) party would be the perfect time to make it. I make the cake according to the directions, only subbing the raspberry jam for blueberry, and toasting my coconut for the sides. I also found that I needed another 1/2 batch of the buttercream to have enough to frost and decorate.

For the Cake
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For Finishing
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
Getting Ready
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
To Make the Cake
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.
Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean
Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners.
Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).
To Make the Buttercream
Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.
Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.
Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.
During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.
On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.
To Assemble the Cake
Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.
Spread it with one third of the preserves.
Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream.
Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover).
Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.
The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold. Depending on your audience you can serve the cake with just about anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.
The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.
Playing Around
Since lemon is such a friendly flavour, feel free to make changes in the preserves: other red preserves – cherry or strawberry – look especially nice, but you can even use plum or blueberry jam.
Fresh Berry Cake
If you will be serving the cake the day it is made, cover each layer of buttercream with fresh berries – use whole raspberries, sliced or halved strawberries or whole blackberries, and match the preserves to the fruit. You can replace the coconut on top of the cake with a crown of berries, or use both coconut and berries. You can also replace the buttercream between the layers with fairly firmly whipped sweetened cream and then either frost the cake with buttercream (the contrast between the lighter whipped cream and the firmer buttercream is nice) or finish it with more whipped cream. If you use whipped cream, you’ll have to store the cake the in the refrigerator – let it sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.

The cake came out well, very white with a nice rise and golden top. Very dense, rich cake! The buttercream was fabulous... the two together were VERY lemony. The blueberry was a welcome sweetness.

I was very proud of my decorating since that is NOT normally my strong suit. Go me!

Friday, March 28, 2008

MmmmMmmMMMMmm Chocolate...

I love love love really dark chocolate so when Blakes Makes had a giveaway for the new TCHO Chocolates - I signed right up!

The chocolates came last week from CA in a fun silver bubble envelope. Sadly, my photos came out terribly, I dont know why, so I am grabbing pics from the TCHO website. I got teh "Chocolatey" kind and wow was it ever!

This chocolate was a very pure tasting dark chocolate. A hint of fruit at the end and a hint of espresso. Often dark chocolate can have a sour, 'off' flavor at teh end and there was none of that.

I shared mine with my mom who is also a chocolate fan and she loved it too.

This chocolate was so good... I would definitely buy it as a special gift! Mmmmm

Monday, March 24, 2008

Coconut Risotto with Shrimp and Green Sauce

I saw this on another blog and knew I needed to make it that very night. And my instincts were good - it was SO YUMMY! I loved it. Shrimp + coconut + lime + cilantro + avocado? Seriously... cant go wrong. Those are all some of my most favorite flavors.

The rice was nice and creamy and the sauce had a nice bite from the lime. Definitely making this one again! My changes (very few) in italics!

Butterflied Shrimp on Coconut Risotto with Avocado, Lime and Cilantro Cream

For 4 Servings:


1 cup arborio rice

1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk

2 - 3 cups chicken stock

1 Tablespoon sliced green onion

1 Tablespoon neutral oil

1/4 cup shredded coconut - toasted (I forgot that this went in the risotto and only topped it with a sprinkle... I didnt bother toasting it either out of time constraints but next time I would)


12 large shrimp - tails on and butterflied (sliced down the back nearly all the way through) (I used more since this was our main entree - 1 pound for 2 ppl)

1 Tablespoon neutral oil


1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves

1/2 small avocado

1 Tablespoon lime juice (I used a bit more than this... wanted a bit more of a zip)

1/4 cup sour cream

Make the risotto:

Saute green onion in 1 T oil briefly. Add rice and toast lightly. Mix coconut milk and chicken stock.

Add stock mixture to rice one cup at a time - letting rice absorb stock before adding another cup.

Add the toasted coconut after the second cup of stock. Stir nearly constantly. (omitted - forgot!) When you get to the 20 minute mark, check the rice for consistency.

Once the rice is al dente and creamy, you're done. You may or may not use all of the stock.

Keep warm.

Make the cream:

Combine cilantro, avocado, lime and sour cream in a blender. Puree until very smooth.

Make the shrimp:

Pan-fry the shrimp - cut side down - until lightly browned. This will take about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water to the pan so the shrimp will finish cooking and curl slightly. This will take just another 2 minutes or so.

Serve the risotto topped with shrimp. Place a dollop of cream on each shrimp and garnish with a sprinkling of toasted coconut and a cilantro leaf.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Chicken Tikka Masala

This recipe was found in hte Letters / Readers' Favorite Recipes section of Bon Appetit and unfortunately, i could not locate it on Epicuious... so I will type the whole. long. recipe. out.

I made this a few weekends ago when my sister and brother came over for dinner. There are alot of steps so definitely a weekend-only meal, but it was really good! Very flavorful. Not too spicy either (and I am very picky about spicy food)

6 Servings

Onion-Tomato Masala

3 T Olive Oil

2 cups chopped onion

1.5 tsp cumin seeds

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 T ground coriander

3 cups chopped tomatos (about 3 medium)

Chicken Tikka

1/4 cup plus 1 T olive oil, plus addl for brushing

2 T fresh lemon juice, divided

1 tsp salt, divided

3/4 tsp cayenne pepper, divided

1/2 tsp dry mustard powder, divided

2 pounds skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes

1 cup plain yogurt

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 T minced peeled ginger

1 tsp garam masala

Chopped cilantro to garnish

Masala: Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over med high heat. Add onions and cumin and saute until onions are golden, about 12 min. Add garlic and ginger, stir 1 min. Add coriander, stir 15 sec. Add tomatos; reduce heat to medium and simmer until chunky sauce forms, about 6 min. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Chicken: Whisk 1/4 cup of oil with 1 T lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cayenne, and 1/4 tsp dry mustard in large bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat. Cover and chill 30 min, tossing occasionally.

whisk next 4 ingredients with 1 T oil, 1 T lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp cayenne, and 1/4 tsp mustard in a large bowl. Add chicken mixture and toss. Cover and chill 3 hrs, tossing occasionally.

Preheat oven to 375. Thread chicken onto skewers, dividing evenly. Brush grill pan with oil, heat over med-high. Work in batches as needed, grill chichen with marindae still clinging until dark brown (approx 2 min per side). Transfer to rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven and roast until cooked through, about 15 min. (I omitted the skewers and just did the chicken in a pan and then the oven)

Rewarm Masala mixture and serve topped with chicken. Garnish with cilantro. I served it with jasmine rice.

Bananas Foster

Always on hte lookout for wheat-free dessert's to serve my sis... this one was from Everyday Food and is ridiculously quick and easy. And yummy!

1 Pint Vanilla Ice Cream (I used Haagen Daaz Vanilla Bean... mmmm)

2 Tablespoons butter

1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar

1/4 cup dark or gold rum

3 bananas, halved crosswise and lengthwise, peeled

1) Set Ice Cream out to soften. In a large skillet, heat butter, sugar, and rum over medium low. Cook stirring occasionally until smooth and bubbly, 4-6 min.

2) Add bananas and cook, gently swirling skillet until bananas are just warmed through, 1-2 min. Scoop ice cream into bowls, top with bananas and sauce. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sea Bass over Wilted Spinach

How fancy does THAT sound? ;)

The sea bass - Ryan loves it and they had some nice pieces at the place I go for fish and beef. We both prefer fish simply prepared and pan-fried so I seared the fish in olive oil with lemon juice on high then dropped the heat to medium to med low and covered with a grease catcher and let cook for about 15 min. Meanwhile.

The spinach was from an Everyday Food recipe in the March issue. It was featured under roasted salmon and I think that it would be fab with salmon simply prepared too. The recipe serves 4 - I halved it for the two of us and it was just right. Healthy too! Lots of iron :)

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 bags (5 ounces each) baby spinach
1/2 cup feta, crumbled (2 ounces)
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add as much spinach as will fit; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing spinach and adding more to skillet as space becomes available, until tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; drain off excess liquid. Stir in feta, pine nuts, and lemon juice. Serve fish with spinach saute.

Very nice! Served along with roasted asparagus and some GAWGEOUS freah strawberries from stop and shop (spring REALLY must be on the way...)

BTW: asparagus is coming into season. OMG it tastes so much better in season than out of season. Noticeably sweeter and just yummier. So. GO GET SOME ASPARAGUS! :)

Cranberry Soda Bread

For St Patricks Day weekend we went to Pittsburgh for the parade and my sister-in-law and brother-in-law's annual shindig.

I decided to try my hand at Irish Soda Bread, which Irish though I am, I have never made. not sure why because it is EASY and YUMMY!

I had to be different though and changed the recipe to be more of a sweet bread than a traditional Irish Soda, and used dried cranberries instead of raisins too. It was SO.GOOD. I seriously ate about 5 (small) pieces saturday night. YUM!

The recipe is from one of my good buddies Alison (Finny). This is one of her family recipes (plus my changes since I cant leave well enough alone...). My changes in italics

2 cup raisins (crans)

4 cup flour (It was a REALLLLLY wet dough so I added about 1/4-1/2 cup out of worry)

3/4 cup sugar (I added 1/4 c extra)

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda (all the recipe said was "tsp" so I guessed at 1...)

1 3/4 cup butter milk (i did it the cheater way - turned milk to buttermilk by added white vinegar)

1 egg

1 stick butter, chopped (I softened it first to work in the dough more easily)

1. soak 2 cup raisins in warm water, when plump drain.

2. combine dry ingredients in large bowl

3. add butter - use hands to mix

4. combine wet ingredients in separate bowl

5. slowly add wet ingredients to dry, mix with hands, turn dough (will be sticky) If too sticky add more flour

6. place moist dough in greased cast iron pan or onto a greased cookie sheet. The dough was huge and wet so needed to be a skillet... I tried a cookie sheet but it wasnt holding together...)

7. cut x across top of dough

8. Back at 350 until toothpick comes out clean. (about 1 hour)

9. if the top is getting too brown before middle is done...cover with foil.

I also "floured" the loaf before baking with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and some more after it came out of the oven.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Beer Bread

For some reason I was in the mood to make bread yesterday but didnt have the time for a yeast bread. Looked around and decided - beer bread! This is so incredibly easy. SO fast to make. We are talking the ease of making a brownie mix. And good! I made two loaves...

I did a quick google to get the correct ratios and used this website.

Basic Beer Bread Mix:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon baking powder (make sure it's fresh!)

12 ounces beer

Optional glaze: 1 egg & 2 teaspoons water, beaten
Heat oven to 375 degrees. (for some reason I wrote 350 not 375 but it came out well, not too brown and took 45 min to be done so I recommend the 350)

Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, dill, and cheddar in a large mixing bowl. Slowly stir in beer and mix just until combined. Batter will be thick. Spread in a greased 8-inch loaf pan, brush with egg glaze if desired, and bake until golden brown and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool 10 more minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Flavor Variations (also see the comments section at the end of this post for lots more beer bread flavor inspiration):

Garlic & Herb: Add 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, and 2 minced garlic cloves (or 1 teaspoon garlic flakes) to the basic mix. For fresh herbs, use 1 chopped Tablespoon of each.

Dill & Chive: Add 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried dill) and 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives to the basic mix.

Rosemary & Feta (courtesy of my bread baking pal, Beth): Add 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary and 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces) to the basic mix.

Italian: Add 1 teaspoon each dried basil and oregano (or 1 Tablespoon each chopped fresh basil and oregano), 2 minced cloves of garlic, and 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan or romano cheese to the basic mix.

Other Additions: Any dried or fresh herbs; 1/2 cup freshly grated asiago (or other hard cheese); 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped scallions; 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour or 1/2 cup oats in place of 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour. Or practically anything else you can think of--just use your imagination.

I made two loaves: the first with Sam Adams Brown Lager and a generous 1/2 cup or parmesan (plus some sprinkled over the egg wash on top)

The Second with Blue Moon Winter and 3 cloves of garlic, minced, and a tsp each of rosemary, oregano and thyme.

We have only cut into the Parmesan one so far but it is very good! Consistency is similar to a banana bread. Easy enough to make that you dont even need a mixer!

Once these loaves are done I plan to attempt a whole wheat loaf - with honey beer and honey instead of sugar... shd be good!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

"Rice" pudding

Part deux of my Platinum Chef entry, I decided to go with a dessert. I used a recipe from Epicurious as my base. I had planned to make this with butternut as well but ran out of time and energy so I just used canned pumpkin instead. I also skipped carmelizing (no blowtorch :( ) I subbed barley for the rice - tricky tricky!!

From the site:

Caramelizing the top of this pudding adds an extra depth of flavor, but it's equally delicious without doing it.
A blowtorch works best here; the broiler didn't give us the uniform browning we wanted.

Active time: 1 3/4 hr Start to finish: 2 1/2 hr

Servings: Makes 8 to 10 servings.


1 (1 1/2- to 2-lb) piece pumpkin or butternut squash, halved and seeded (omitted)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter (omitted)

2/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

2/3 cup long-grain white rice (changed to PEARL BARLEY)

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 cups whole milk

8 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger (2 oz) (omitted)

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar such as Sugar in the Raw (optional) (omitted)

Added: 1 vanilla bean

1 can pumpkin (1 1/3 cups used)

Special equipment: a blowtorch (optional)


Bake pumpkin: Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.
Arrange each piece of pumpkin, cut side up, on a sheet of foil. Top each with 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Wrap separately in foil and bake, cut sides up, in a shallow baking pan until flesh is tender, about 1 hour.
Open foil and cool pumpkin slightly, then scoop flesh into a food processor and purée until smooth. (This was all skipped and canned pumpkin was used instead)

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Cook rice (barley) while pumpkin bakes: Heat rice, salt, 4 cups milk, and remaining 2/3 cup granulated sugar in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until very hot. Transfer to a large metal bowl set over a large saucepan of simmering water (or to a double boiler) and cook over low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender and most of milk is absorbed, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. (Add more simmering water to saucepan if necessary.) Remove pan from heat and keep rice warm, covered.

Make pudding: Lightly whisk yolks in a large bowl, then whisk in vanilla, ginger, 1 1/3 cups pumpkin purée (reserve remainder for another use), and remaining cup milk. Gradually stir in warm rice, then pour mixture into a buttered 2-quart flameproof shallow baking dish (not glass). Set baking dish in a roasting pan and bake pudding in a hot water bath, uncovered, in oven until set, 50 minutes to 1 hour.

If caramelizing pudding, sprinkle evenly with turbinado sugar, then move blowtorch flame evenly back and forth over sugar until sugar is melted and caramelized. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Cooks' notes:• Pumpkin can be baked and puréed 2 days ahead and cooled, uncovered, then chilled, covered. • Pudding can be baked (but not caramelized) 1 day ahead and cooled, uncovered, then chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before caramelizing or serving.

That was all from the website linked. I added the vanilla bean (seeds and pods) to the milk and barley as it was cooking (remove the pods before cooking of course!) I still used vanilla in the custard because I really wanted vanilla to be a star in this. The barley worked great as a substitute for the rice - healthied it up a bit (though really all the whole milk and sugar... not much that can be done!). I dont think ryan would have known except I told him about the challenge and ingredients prior.

It turned out great - lucky since there is a TON leftover!

Beef Barley Soup

I made this soup for part of the Platinum Chef Challenge (post to follow) and thought I was being all creative with it... turns out Beef Barley soup is a common thing... ah well! I made it sans recipe and with some platinum twists and LOVED it. SO good! Ryan had two helpings :) I would make it again, for sure (once the extra servings in the freezer are gone ;) )

Beef Barley Soup


1 cup pearl barley

Olive oil

1 can chickpeas

Ground Cumin

1 large onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

6 cups stock (I used a combination of beef and chicken - 4 and 2 - have extra on hand to add as needed)

8 ounces butternut in bite sized pieces

about 1.5 to 2 pounds of strips of beef (I forget what cut mine it... bought in bulk and frozen for fajitas)

In a medium stockpot, bring 2.5 cups of water with a pinch of salt to a boil. Add barley, lower heat and simmer stirring occasionally for 45 minutes or until done (tender, most or all water absorbed). Set aside.

In a large stockpot, heat 2 T olive oil over medium high. Add can of drained chickpeas and 1 tablespoon of ground cumin. Cook for a couple minutes, stirring occasionally. When chickpeas start to slightly brown, add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally for another 5 min until onions are soft and browning.

Add Stock. Dump in barley. Add butternut. Lower heat to a slow simmer.

Meanwhile in a large frying pan, heat a tsp or 2 of olive oil over medium high heat. Season beef with kosher salt and cumin. Add beef to hot pan and cook about 15 min, turning. Outside should have a nice crust (not burned) so let it sit to develop and mine was medium. Pull from heat and cut into bite sized pieces (I like bigger chunks of meat myself).

Add pieces of beef to soup, and a bag of baby spinach. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer to soften spinach and serve!

Platinum Chef - March!

Cara is back with a new Platinum Chef Challenge and I was pumped to expand my culinary horizons with two new ingredients (to me!): Barley and Chickpeas. They join Vanilla, Butternut Squash, and cumin. The challenge is to create one or two dishes using all the ingredients between them, with at least 2 ingredients each.

Confession: I had to google what the heck barley even was and how to cook it/what it is similar to. I later was told over dinner what one of the dishes I made, a beef soup with barley (among other things) is a really common classic soup. And here I thought I was being creative! ;) Somehow I missed the Beef Barley soup in the Campbell's rack!

The good news is, I learned I like Barley (my husband already knew he liked it) and we both also like the chickpeas!

And I already knew that I love butternut, vanilla, and cumin.... mmm :)

Dish 1: Beef Barley Soup

Three Ingredients Featured: Butternut Squash, Barley, Chickpeas, cumin

Dish 2: Pumpkin "Rice" Pudding

Two and a Half Ingredients Featured: Barley, Vanilla, and Pumpkin (the 1/2)

BLACKberry and GOLDen Pineapple Breakfast

Homegrown Gourmet time! I missed the last few challenges but the holidays are way over by now - no more excuses! The premise of this event is that you create a dish that somehow represents your hometown. It can be whatever interpretation works for you! This month's challenge was BREAKFAST!

Not my hometown, but where Ryan is from and we both went to school - PITTSBURGH bleeds black and gold. The only city where all its professional teams have the same colors (Steelers, Pirates, Penguins): Black and Gold.

I decided to run with that and created BLACKberry and GOLDen Pineapple Pancakes! We ate them this morning... yum!

I based it on a recipe from Martha Stewart Living with a few tweaks.

1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 small handfuls of diced fresh pineapple
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
1 pint blueberries (about 2 cups)
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 pint blackberries (about 1 cup)

Make the pancakes: Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Whisk together flour, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Whisk in buttermilk, oil, and eggs. Let stand 10 minutes and fold in pineapple

Make the compote: Heat blueberries, lemon juice, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat until berries begin to burst, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in sugar. Simmer, stirring often, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and stir in blackberries.
Coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray, and heat over medium heat. Spoon in 1 tablespoon batter for each pancake. Cook until bubbles appear. Flip, and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Keep warm in oven while you cook remaining batter. Serve with compote.

Healthy and yummy! These are quite sweet with the berries and the pineapple and Ryan loved the theme (big steelers fan) and that they included some of his favorite fruits.

Striped Bass with Pineapple Salsa

Ryan picked up some nice striped bass from our local fish place. I was tired and not up for something too fancy but wanted to do a little more than just pan frying with lemon... I got a few suggestions and ended up making a pineapple salsa to top the pan-fried fish with lemon and olive oil ;)


fresh pineapple (peeled and cored) diced (about 2 handfuls)
1/2 *small* red onion, diced
1 mango firm but ripe, peeled and diced
Lime juice from 1 lime
6-12 mint leaves, minced (to taste)

Combine salsa and set aside (let it sit out for a bit so the flavors mingle)

Striped Bass:
the filets I used were skin on and I cooked them that way.
Squeeze lemon over both filets and place them skin up in a hot pan with a little olive oil. Sear for 2 min and flip to hit each side for a minute, then flip to skin side down. Lower heat to medium low and finish fish (took about 15 min for my thick filets). Top with salsa to serve!

We really liked this - I love fish paired with fruit (or other sweet flavors like balsamic) and Ryan loved a nice meaty fish like this. If you like fish like tuna, salmon, and swordfish, you would probably like this one too. Nice and meaty but still a mild flavor.