Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Blueberries so tiny…

They are not in season yet, I know, but I like blueberries so much that I keep buying them frozen throughout the winter months. It is not the same as fresh, but they are so healthy and good for you that even frozen I enjoy my blueberries as if it was summer again.
Blueberry is a fruit I discovered here in the US, we did not used to have them in Brazil, but with its growing popularity I have heard that they are now trying to cultivate it over there too (and if I am not wrong the name in Brazil would be “mirtilos”).
Speaking of cultivated blueberries, I have always heard people talk about wild blueberries and how much better they were supposed to be when compared to their cultivated counterparts. Well, now I know what the experts were talking about.
I happened to find frozen blueberries for the first time at BJs a couple months ago, and for my surprise they were the wild variety. I more than quickly grabbed a bag and run to the register, just as if someone would come and take my new discovery away from me. I was finally going to try wild blueberries!
And you know what, they DO taste better. Much better indeed, they are a lot more flavorful than the regular frozen blueberries I used to buy. I loved it!!
They are so tiny, much smaller than the cultivated variety, but they pack in the smaller ones the entire flavor that the huge ones at the store have to offer. They are also sturdier, meaning that they don’t burst easily when heated up (yes, I like to eat them heated up with a sprinkle of sugar, oh so good!).
I have been eating them straight out of the package, heated up, mixing them into smoothies, and in baked goods, and they are always great, especially on my favorite: blueberry muffins!
However, yesterday I tried them on a very easy recipe for Blueberry Pie!
I wanted to make something with blueberries that would be just as flavorful as it would be easy to make. I have seen a few recipes for blueberry pies and a couple of them called my attention, as they were actually no-bake pies. I sort of combined both recipes and created my own pie, and it turned out very good!
Since I actually prefer them to regular pastry, I used a cookie crumb crust for my pie, but a regular pie shell would definitely work well here too.
The recipe is easy, and you can make it in a pinch when using a store-bought crust. I made mine using frozen blueberries, and can’t wait to try it with the fresh ones over the summer months. Easy and delicious, definitely going to be repeated over here!

Blueberry Pie
One pre-baked piecrust
4 cups blueberries (you can use more or less according to the size of your pie crust)
½ cup water
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon lemon juice

In a saucepan combine 1 cup of the blueberries with the water, cook over medium heat just until the blueberries heats up and the liquid reduces a little. Add the sugar and cook one minute more. Add lemon juice, dissolve the cornstarch on the 2 tablespoons water and add to the pan, stirring constantly. Cook for one more minute or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and add the remaining blueberries to the pot, folding them gently into the cooked mixture. Pour blueberry mixture into the prepared crust. Let cool and then refrigerate for a couple hours before serving.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Sunday’s Pasta

We were all sneezy with our alergies at its peak this weekend, so to make us a little happier I decided to make something different than our usual Sunday' pasta with either red or white sauce. Three-Cheese Chicken Penne Florentine came out perfect, creamy and cheesy! It was delicious, and the best thing is it was a one-dish meal, with starch, vegetable and protein included in one yummy bowl!
I used whole-wheat penne and white cheddar cheese. Also, I don’t actually like these canned soup things, so for the canned soup I substituted 1 1/4 cup evaporated milk + 1 tablespoon cornstarch + a little bit of chicken bouillon, which I put in a pan and cooked over medium heat just until thickened, let it cool a bit and added to the dish as indicated for the soup. (I used evaporated milk but I am pretty sure regular milk would work nicely here)
Very good dish, comfort food at its best! We all enjoyed it and hope you will too!


Three-Cheese Chicken Penne Florentine
1 teaspoon olive oil
Cooking spray
3 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (16-ounce) carton 2% low-fat cottage cheese
4 cups hot cooked penne (about 8 ounces uncooked tube-shaped pasta)
2 cups shredded roasted skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of chicken soup, undiluted

Preheat oven to 425°.
Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, and bell pepper; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add spinach, oregano, and black pepper; sauté 3 minutes or just until spinach wilts.
Place cottage cheese in a food processor; process until very smooth. Combine spinach mixture, cottage cheese, pasta, chicken, 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, milk, and soup in a large bowl. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheddar cheese and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.

Cooking Light, March 2006

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Simply Salmon

I like fish a lot, but only discovered salmon a few years ago. Fish used to be more of a treat when I was growing up and since salmon is not an affordable type of fish I only came to try it after I got married. It is an acquired taste I guess, as it has its own flavors, very different from the white fish fillets I was used to.
I could not even smell it (and other fishy foods) when I was pregnant, and it took me a few years after that to be able to enjoy salmon again (although white fish, such as tilapia, would not bother me).
It has been a couple of weeks since I got a craving for salmon, but did not get to prepare it until today.
I sprinkled the salmon fillets with salt, pepper, olive oil, chopped dill, and fresh lemon juice. Just that, and baked it in the oven (350) for 10 minutes. Served it with brown rice, roasted tomatoes and asparagus (which went in the oven at the same time the fish baked, seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar). Easy and delicious!!
Matheus loved and ate every last bit of it, so we were both happy after a nice and healthy lunch!


Saturday, March 11, 2006


Once again I got inspired by a “blog friend” and made a winner recipe! I got today’s recipe from Akemi’s blog, Pecado da Gula.
I saw the recipe and picture and immediately copied it down, putting it on top of my to try pile of recipes. The Strawberry Bavaroise looked so good, plus I love creamy desserts.

And this one was delicious! A perfect dessert, just the way I like. Light and creamy, with just the right amount of sweetness, it had a mousse-like texture, but wasn’t as aerated. It was highly approved here at our home, being declared one of the best desserts that I made lately!

It is very simple and easy to make, and the end result is worth any effort.
I will make this again for sure, especially during the summer months. I think that this might also be good frozen, and am just wondering how other fruits would perform here. I guess a mix of berries would be awesome, and even mangoes might be good, yummy! Can’t wait to make it again! Thanks Akemi!



Check out Akemi’s blog for the recipe in Portuguese

Strawberry Bavaroise
360 grams Strawberries
250 ml milk
200 ml whipping cream
100 grams sugar
10 grams unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a small cup sprinkle the gelatin over 4 tablespoons water to hydrate, reserve.
Puree the strawberries and lemon juice in a blender.
Put the milk in a pan and heat over medium-high heat, just until it starts to bubble on the sides, but do not let it boil. Remove from heat; add sugar and the gelatin to the pan, stirring until it dissolves.
Add the strawberry puree to the milk mixture in the pan.
Fill up a big bowl (or the kitchen sink) with ice-cold water, and put the pan over the ice water to cool up the mixture. Keep stirring with a spatula, until the strawberry mixture starts to thicken.

In a separate bowl whip the cream to soft peaks. Add half of the whipped cream to the strawberry mixture and mix to incorporate. Add the rest of the whipped cream and gently fold it in the mixture. Pour mixture on a deep Pyrex dish and refrigerate for at least one hour. Serve with strawberries and whipping cream if desired.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Chicken is good!

My favorite animal protein has definitely to be chicken, chicken breasts, that is. I like meat and adore fish, but chicken is the number one. It is light and doesn’t have strong flavor, which allows for a ton of different dishes, accepting a variety of seasonings and spices, and cooking methods as well.
However, as versatile as it is, I always seem to go for chicken recipes with simple flavors and sauces. For example, I love grilled chicken, seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil and herbs, my favorites being basil or rosemary. Sometimes I will add yogurt to the marinade for a delicious tang. So good!
The only thing about chicken breasts is that you cannot overcook it, or you get very dry meat and that is not fun to eat. Plus, for oven roasting I learned that the best way is to do it with bone-in, skin-in breast, this way the chicken is sure to stays moist.
Today’s recipe is done on the stovetop, uses chicken breasts and has a very flavorful sauce. And being the garlic fan I am I could not wait to try the Skillet Chicken Breast Aglio Olio. As soon as I saw the recipe I knew I had to make it. And I am glad I did; it was delicious, so much flavor in it, and yet very simple to make!
No secrets here, the ingredients are as simple as can be, and the end result is a very yummy and moist chicken, covered in a sauce infused with the saltiness of the capers and a very subtle garlic flavor, nothing strong at all.
I omitted the hot pepper and did not add the extra salt, but did the rest just as the recipe says. (Since I liked the look of the hot peppers in the magazine picture, I added some chopped red bell pepper to mine, just so that it would look pretty!) At first I wasn’t sure about the addition of breadcrumbs to the sauce but I loved it at the end. The crumbs added such a pleasant texture and thickened the sauce without making it gummy, I will try adding breadcrumbs to thick similar sauces from now on.
I served it sautéed vegetables (carrots and chayote), brown rice and beans. A very good recipe, yummy and tasty, one that will surely be repeated here!


Skillet Chicken Breast Aglio e Olio
6 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 ounces)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 to 3 tablespoons capers, drained
4 pickled hot cherry peppers, halved and seeded
1 cup organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
1 tablespoon dry breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Dredge chicken in flour.
Heat oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Add capers and peppers; cook 30 seconds. Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until chicken is done. Stir in breadcrumbs; cook until liquid thickens (about 1 minute). Taste sauce, and add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, if needed. Remove from heat; sprinkle with parsley.Yield: 6 servings.

Cooking Light, March 2006

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Spoon Bread

See, I am not a big fan of “eggy” dishes (quiche, for example), but I sometimes enjoy eating soufflé. I actually like making soufflé, as it is easy and complex at the same time. You need a flavorful base, and mine usually involves some kind of cheese and/or spinach, and then the egg whites, which should be beaten to stiff peaks, but not too stiff or they will be pretty dry.
Today’s recipe reminded me a lot of a soufflé when I first saw the picture, however the ingredient that caught my attention in this one was cornmeal. I have never had spoon bread before, so I have nothing to compare this one to, but we liked it a lot!
It does have a sort of a souffleish characteristic to it, but with an even nicer texture (in my opinion). It was almost like a cross between a soufflé and a cornbread, but much, much lighter. The texture was what I liked the most; it was sort of creamy, moist and light, all at same time, without being soggy (you know, sometimes my soufflés get a little soggy in the bottom, especially after sitting for a few minutes), and not dry enough to actually resemble bread. Hard to describe, but it was very nice, I really liked this dish and will probably make it again!
Sautéing the ham beforehand brought a lot more flavor to this dish than if it was just thrown in there as is. I did however sauté the onions and ham together, as I don’t see a purpose of doing it in two separate batches. Next time I will try making it with different cheeses, as I like the cornmeal cheese combination and believe I would prefer it without the ham.
The recipe makes a lot; I made half recipe, and it was devoured at dinner! If you like soufflé you may like it too!


Ham and Two-Cheese Spoon Bread
2 3/4 cups milk
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1 cup chopped onion
8 ounces 33%-less-sodium ham, diced
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
4 large egg whites

Preheat oven to 375°.
Combine milk, sugar, dried thyme, and pepper in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When mixture begins to simmer, gradually add cornmeal in a slow, steady stream, stirring well with a whisk. Cook 3 minutes or until thickened and smooth, stirring constantly. Transfer cornmeal mixture to a large bowl. Add yolks, stirring with a whisk. Let mixture stand 10 minutes.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion; sauté 6 minutes or until tender. Add to cornmeal mixture. Recoat pan with cooking spray. Add ham; sauté 5 minutes or until ham begins to brown. Add to cornmeal mixture. Stir cheeses into cornmeal mixture.
Beat egg whites with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form (do not overbeat). Gently stir one-third of egg white mixture into cornmeal mixture; gently fold in remaining egg white mixture. Using a rubber spatula, scrape cornmeal mixture into a 1 1/2-quart soufflé or deep baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 50 minutes or until puffed, golden brown, and just set in center. Serve immediately.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)
Cooking Light, January 2006

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I am still here…!

Not many new recipes, but I am still here, cooking and all! Last week I made mostly repeated recipes that we really enjoy and did not try many new things, so I ended up not posting much.
I got inspired on my fellow bloggers as was trying some recipes that they made. However, I went to make a strawberry recipe that looked very good and half-way through the recipe I found out I was missing one of the ingredients… oh, I hate when that happens. But it is ok, I got everything I need today and soon there will be pictures and reviews around here!
I saw Karen’s post about making biscotti with whole-wheat flour and decided to try. You know, we all try to eat healthy and white flour is one ingredient I try to substitute when it is not extremely necessary. I make all my muffins with whole-wheat flour, and we all love it at home! So, I decided to try it in the biscotti too, and let me tell you, it worked very well!
I tried her recipe, which is very easy, and then went looking for recipes that would have the same principles. And I found a good one. Power Biscotti is full of healthy ingredients and the end result is a very satisfying biscotto, nice and crunchy with a delicious nutty flavor to it! I halved the recipe and used whole almonds on mine, but other than that I followed the recipe as it is. Next time I may try using the slivered almonds, or at least will buy the blanched ones, as I think they look and taste better without the skin in the biscotti.
Sunday we had one of Matheus’ favorite pasta: ravioli! So good, and could not be easier it was actually store bought. I am not the biggest fan of pasta, but some day I will try making the noodles at home, I have heard tons of comments of how much better the homemade version is, plus, pasta is the Husband’s favorite dish of all!
Besides not having many recipes to post I was also very disappointed with my new blender (remember, the pretty one I posted about here…) and had to return it to the store. I really wanted to like that blender because it looked so nice, and since I have a stand mixer from the same brand that is awesome, I never thought it would not be as good.
Oh well… we cannot only trust in the appearances, right?! I guess I will be getting a simpler one now, just like the one I had before, cheap but very efficient!
By the way, did anyone have the same blender as I did? Did you have any problems with it not pureeing things?! (Mine would not puree fruits, and even cooked beans…)
See you soon with more recipes!


Power Biscotti
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup wheat bran
2 tablespoons flaxseed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine the flour and the next 7 ingredients (flour through baking powder) in a large bowl. Combine oil, extracts, and eggs; add to flour mixture, stirring until well-blended (dough will be dry and crumbly). Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 7 or 8 times. Divide the dough in half. Shape each portion into an 8-inch-long roll. Place the rolls 6 inches apart on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; flatten each roll to 1-inch thickness.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Remove rolls from baking sheet; cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Cut each roll diagonally into 15 (1/2-inch) slices. Place the slices, cut sides down, on baking sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 325°; bake 10 minutes. Turn cookies over; bake an additional 10 minutes (the cookies will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool). Remove from baking sheet; cool completely on wire rack.
Yield: 2 ½ dozen
Cooking Light, November 2000

Sunday's Lunch, yummy ravioli!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Taste Testing some cake recipes…

As I mentioned on the last post, I have been testing some cake recipes, but not your usual cake recipes, they are actually more a kind of “allergy-free cakes”! hehe!
Matheus’ birthday is on the 25, and we are going to celebrate at a fun place he chose by inviting his classmates and having yummy cake to round up the fun! However, some of his friends have severe food allergies, and since the only thing I am going to make is the cake, I felt really bad about having a cake that a few kids could not enjoy.
So, I started a quest for an Egg-free Milk-free Nut-free Birthday Cake to make for the party, and that way I hope everyone can participate in the whole fun, including the cake part too!
I tested 3 recipes so far, two for yellow cake and one for chocolate cake. The chocolate cake I had actually made before (one time we wanted cake and didn’t have eggs in the house), but in name of research I did test it again!
From the two yellow cakes, although the recipes were similar, one came out a little better than the other, and I am posting the recipe with a picture below. The only drawback from this recipe is that it makes a small (8x8 inches) cake, and I would have to at least double the recipe to feed all the 25 kids. However the cake tasted good and kept very moist for over three days.
The chocolate cake on the other side yielded a much better cake, a very moist and tall cake, which was baked in a 9x13 cake pan. (I got the recipe a while ago from the website It tasted and looked good, very tender, and everyone was impressed the cake did not actually have any eggs or milk in it. We will probably be having chocolate cake for the birthday this year. If I can convince Matheus, that is; because he originally wanted a white cake with strawberries in the middle… oh well, chocolate cake is still good, right?! And being able to share it with everyone definitely makes it taste even better!
I will post further recipes in case I do more testings. Meanwhile, whish me luck… now I am on my way to taste another frosting recipe (first one did not came out very nice… oops!)


Milk-Free Egg-Free Chocolate Cake
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 cups warm water
1 cup oil
In a bow mix all dry ingredients together. In another bowl mix wet ingredients, add to mixture and mix until well combined and free of lumps. Pour batter into greased and floured rectangular baking pan and bake at 350 for about 35-40 minutes.

Milk-free, Egg-free Yellow Cake

1 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp arrowroot (optional)
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar
5 Tbsp canola oil
1 cup cold water
Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8x8 pan.

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add liquid ingredients and beat for 2 minutes. Pour into 8x8 pan and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.