24 August 2008

Three Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

If you know me, it is likely you know how much I love cheese. I love to have my pizza piled high with extra cheese and any sort of grilled sandwich with ooey-gooey cheese on it is a winner in my book. There are times I have to control myself at the grocery store and resist the temptation to buy a bag of cubed cheese. So, as you could guess from all of this, I loooove macaroni and cheese. Unfortunately, that usually doesn't fit in with the whole idea of "healthy eating", which is what I've made an effort to do this summer.
As I was browsing our latest issue of Cooking Light, my eyes fell upon a recipe for three cheese mac and cheese. Oh my gosh. Words cannot effectively explain my excitement. Not only would this be a healthier version of one of my favorite foods, but I had been itching to make some mac and cheese [not from a box] all summer. My sister was the test subject for the recipe and she loved it! Jenna can be a little picky about her food, so I wasn't sure how she'd feel about a macaroni and cheese with onion and "fancy" cheese. Considering that she ate about a third of it in one sitting, I think it's safe to say it was a hit with her. My dad finished off the leftovers the following night and approved of the recipe as well.

Three Cheese Macaroni and Cheese
from Cooking Light magazine

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion [about 1 medium onion]
2 tablespoons flour
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups low-fat 1% milk
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup [2 ounces] Gruyere cheese [the original recipe calls for
Gorgonzola but I wasn't feeling that]
3/4 cup [3 ounces] grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni [I used a different tube pasta]

cooking spray
2/3 cup [about 2.5 ounces] shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2/3 cup panko [Japanese breadcrumbs]
freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add flour and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in milk and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add Gruyere, 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, and salt; stir until cheeses melt. Discard bay leaf.
Preheat oven to 375°.

Cook pasta in boiling water 5 minutes or until almost tender; drain well. Add pasta to cheese mixture, stirring well. Place about 1/2 of pasta mixture into an 8-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with mozzarella. Top evenly with remaining pasta mixture. Combine remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and panko; sprinkle evenly over pasta mixture. Spray lightly with cooking spray; sprinkle with black pepper. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes or until heated.

20 August 2008

Blackberry Pound Cake

As I mentioned in an earlier entry, I was fortunate enough to receive some delicious, fresh blackberries from a coworker at Decidedly Different. While I had some ideas, I decided to browse our newest cookbook -- The Best of Cooking Light. I found so many delicious berry recipes in the dessert section and I wasn't quite sure which one to use. I was leaning toward trying a blackberry angel food cake, but that called for 12 egg whites and I didn't quite feel like using all of our eggs. The recipe I finally decided on is originally for a blueberry pound cake and I simply subbed in blackberries for the blueberries. I could not be happier with the outcome. This recipe yields a moist and flavorful cake that's perfect for the summer.

Blackberry Pound Cake
taken from The Best of Cooking Light

2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light butter, softened [I used regular unsalted butter]
1/2 cup [4 ounces] 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
3 large eggs

1 large egg white
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries

1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 [8-ounce] carton lemon low-fat yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
cooking spray
1/2 cup powdered sugar

4 teaspoons lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Beat sugar, butter, and cream cheese at medium speed until well blended [about 5 minutes]. Add eggs and egg white, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Measure out your flour, and then take 2 tablespoons of flour from the 3 cups and combine with blackberries in a small bowl, tossing well.

Combine remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture alternately with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Fold in blackberries and vanilla; pour cake bater into 10-inch tube pan coated with cooking spray. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the cente
r comes out clean.

The last part is the part I strayed from. We, somehow, do not own a tube pan or a bundt pan or anything or the sort. Well, shoot. So what did I do? I busted out my new mini fluted cake pans and muffin pans and made some mini cakes! I believe these baked for 35-40 minutes but I could be very, very wrong. Do not take my word for it. Keep an eye on your cakes if you decide to use a different pan to make sure they don't overcook.

Cool your cake in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes and then remove. Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice, and drizzle over the warm cake.

13 August 2008

Cherry Berry Oatmeal Bars

I keep trying to find a way to start this entry and I'm failing miserably, so we'll start this way -- I love me some berries and cherries. Summer fruit is my favorite. Cherries, strawberries, blackberries...I want 'em all. Imagine my delight to find a recipe in Cooking Light this summer for Cherry Berry Jam. All the recipe calls for is cherries, berries, lemon juice, and sugar. I decided to give it a whirl and it turned out pretty well. I should have let the jam simmer for a little while longer, but I'm ridiculously impatient and that resulted in a pretty thin jam that I now refer to as a spread. After using the deliciousness for the topping on our breakfast toast for two weeks straight we still had a ton of the jam left over. I turned to BakeBakeBake for some help and found this recipe.

Cherry Berry Oatmeal Bars

1 cup whole wheat flour [all-purpose would work, also, but I had to use up my wheat flour]
1 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4-5 tablespoons of butter

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9x9 inch baking pan. Combine flour, oats, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Cut in the cold butter until a crumbly mixture is formed. Press 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Spread as much jam as you would like over the bottom layer, but be sure to leave a 1/4 inch edge so the jam doesn't bubble over the topping. Sprinkle the remaining mixture over the jam and press lightly into jam. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

These were good. Not phenomenal, but definitely not bad. They were very tasty warm but I actually preferred them a day or more later. The bars took on a chewier texture and held together much better than on the first day. I would be more enthusiastic about these bars but I much prefer cakes and brownies than something like this. But if you have some extra jam or jelly or whatever to use up I would recommend these oatmeal bars. They make a nice, light alternative to heavier and more decadent desserts...and they're healthier!

11 August 2008

Quite the dilema...

One of my amazing women I work with at a small, local coffee shop has a blackberry bush in her backyard. Apparently, she is up to her neck in blackberries and is trying to get rid of some. She brought a bowl of the berries into work today and told me that she knew I would love to bake with the berries and I could return the bowl when finished. It's as if she read my mind! Before she finished her sentence, I had already begun thinking of all sorts of goodies to bake. Once I got home, I thumbed through our new Cooking Light cookbook to find a potential muffin or cake recipe. A couple caught my eye, so now I have to make the big decision: which will I bake tomorrow?

...Okay I made that sound more epic and trying than it really is. I'm basically deciding between a blackberry pound cake in cupcake or mini cake form or a blackberry lemon muffin. Considering I recently [well, a few weeks ago] made blueberry muffins, I may try the cake, but I wanted some opinions first. So, let me know what you think! Which should be my next baking adventure? Also, your own recipe suggestions are welcome! I'm always open to new ideas.

Coming soon: oatmeal bars with homemade fruit spread!

10 August 2008

I'm still here, for any of you who still read or lurk or what have you. I've been very busy the past few weeks with work and vacation. I'll hopefully be posting again soon.