Friday, April 30, 2010

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream

With the success of my vanilla ice cream, I decided that it would be fun to try to make chocolate ice cream. I used Alton Brown's chocolate ice cream recipe, which was similar to the vanilla ice cream recipe that I followed before, but included cocoa powder. I made the same fat-reducing modifications (less cream, fewer eggs, less sugar) to this recipe as well. The ice cream was a huge success. The cocoa actually made the ice cream thicker and creamier. When it came out of the churn, it tasted almost like a frosty! Once it was frozen, it was even better. I will definitely make it again!

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream
4 egg yolks
1 C sugar
1 C heavy cream
2 C half and half
1 C skim milk
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 C add in of choice (I used cut up reese's cups)

1. Combine 1 C half and half with cocoa powder in a sauce pan.
2. Add remaining half and half, heavy cream and skim milk in a saucepan and bring just to a simmer.
3. Try to dissolve all of the cocoa powder. If there are still clumps (I had quite a few) run through a mesh strainer (I didn't have one, so I used my sifter).
4. Whisk egg yolks until they lighten in color and gradually add sugar, whisking to combine.
5. Temper cream mixture into egg mixture, adding a little bit at a time until about 1/3 of cream has been added to eggs (do it slowly so the eggs don't become scrambled eggs!).
6. Add egg mixture back into cream mixture and heat over medium heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon and reaches 170-175 degrees F.
5. Cool for 30 minutes and then stir in vanilla.
6. Refrigerate overnight.
7. The next day, add mixture to ice cream maker and churn for 20-25 minutes. Add 1/2 C cut up reese's (or mix-in of choice) in the last 3 minutes. *Note: I froze the reese's chunks after I cut them so they would hold their shape in the ice cream.
If you are using the KitchenAid attachment, freeze the bowl the night before when you make the ice cream base.
8. Remove from ice cream maker and store in an airtight container in the freezer overnight to finish hardening (it comes out of the ice cream maker as a soft serve).

Difficulty: Hard, requires a lot of equipment
Debbie's Rating: 10
Hirsh's Rating: 9.5
Benjie's Rating: 10 "I'd say the ice cream was better than any store-bought ice cream I've had - impressive."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rigatoni with Spinach and Mushrooms in a Tomato Cream Sauce

Last Sunday we had my friend Benjie over for dinner. Benjie is a vegetarian and mentioned that he was not a huge fan of cheese, so I had to find a non-cheesy vegetarian meal. I have been wanting to try making a tomato cream sauce for a while now, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I modified a recipe I found on and added sauted spinach and mushrooms to complete the dish. Served with homemade garlic bread and a salad, it was a great meal!

Rigatoni with Spinach and Mushrooms in a Tomato Cream Sauce
(if making for 2, use half of recipe...full recipe makes around 5 dinner portions)

1 lb Rigatoni pasta
Baby spinach, stems removed
Baby bella mushrooms, sliced
Olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tbsp dried basil leaves
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
Few grinds black pepper
1 C light cream
2 tbsp butter

1. Saute onion and garlic in a sauce pan over medium heat until tender.
2. Add tomatoes, basil, sugar, oregano, salt and pepper and stir.
3. Increase heat to medium high and boil for about 5 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.
4. Transfer to blender and puree for a few seconds until smooth.
5. This is a "holding stage" for the dish. You can prepare the sauce to this point and then work on the rest of dinner and finish it later.
6. Saute spinach and then mushrooms in a bit of olive oil while water is boiling for pasta. Set aside.
7. Add pasta and cook until "al dente". In the meantime, reheat the sauce.
8. Add cream and butter to sauce and simmer over low-medium heat for 5 minutes.
9. Toss pasta with sauce and add spinach and mushrooms, making sure to drain off any released water.
10. Enjoy!

Difficulty: Medium
Debbie's Rating: 10- Definitely a "restaurant quality" pasta dish.
Hirsh's Rating: 9
Benjie's Rating: 9

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Grilled Chicken with Orange Soy Ginger Marinade

I found this marinade recipe in the Baltimore Sun. It seemed easy and very flavorful. We have been trying to grill on Sunday nights, so we decided to try it out. We made it with chicken, but I think it would be equally good, if not better, on steak. It has a strong orange/ soy flavor- very Asian tasting, which we really liked. I used it as a marinade and also made the "sauce" as per the directions, but I thought the sauce was a little unnecessary since the marinade gave the chicken so much flavor already. We will definitely make it again- much better than using a marinade out of a bottle!

Orange Soy Ginger Marinade
1/4 C low sodium soy sauce
1/4 dry sherry
1/4 olive oil
2 tbsp orange zest (zest of about 1 orange)
1/4 C fresh orange juice (you should be able to get this from the same orange)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tbsp brown sugar (for sauce)

1. Whisk all ingredients together except for brown sugar.
2. Cover steak or chicken with half of the marinade and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Save remaining marinade for sauce.
3. Grill chicken or steak.
4. Add brown sugar to reserved marinade and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
5. Reduce to a simmer, stirring often and cook 3-4 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly.
* I thought the sauce was a little unnecessary and it kept separating, which was annoying. I would probably just make half the recipe next time and skip this step.
6. Serve sauce over meat.

Difficulty: Easy
Debbie's Rating: 9
Hirsh's Rating: 8.5

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Parmesan Crusted Salmon and Cheesy Herb Rice

I have been trying to try so many new fish recipes that I hadn't made our original salmon recipe in a while. Hirsh was very excited when I told him that I was making parmesan crusted salmon, since despite liking the new preparation methods, this is still his favorite. It is a very easy, fast recipe, great for weeknights. The breading keeps the salmon very moist and the lemon flavor really mellows out any fishy flavor that salmon can have.

I also tried a new rice recipe that I found on Since I am trying to get away from seasoning packets, I thought this would a great way to flavor brown rice without all of the sodium. It turned out really well. And unlike the "homemade pasta side" in my previous post, it is no more work than making a rice mix, making it a very attractive healthy substitution.

Parmesan Crusted Salmon
1 0.8 lb salmon filet
1/2 C italian bread crumbs
1/3 C grated parmesan
Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp butter (Smart Balance)
1 lemon

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
3. Place fish on foil and pat dry with paper towel.
4. Sprinkle with kosher salt (just a little.)
5. In a small saucepan, melt butter and add juice of half lemon.
6. In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, parmesan, a few dashes of thyme and zest of the lemon.
7. Use about half of the lemon butter mixture to coat the fish and mix the other half in with the bread crumb mixture to create a crumb coating.
8. Pat crumb coating on fish, covering all the flesh (even the sides).

9. Bake at 375 degrees for 22 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork.

Difficulty: Easy
Debbie's Rating: 9
Hirsh's Rating: 9

Cheesy Herb Rice
1 C Uncle Ben's Fast and natural brown rice
1 tbsp butter (smart balance)
1 14 oz can low sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp parsley flakes
2 tbsp grated parmesan

1. Combine butter, chicken stock, garlic, parsley and rice and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat and simmer for 13 minutes.
3. Add in parmesan and serve.

Difficulty: Easy
Debbie's Rating: 9
Hirsh's Rating: 9

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Healthy Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins

I love muffins. With the exception of lemon-poppyseed, I don't think I have ever had a muffin I didn't like. Unfortunately, muffins are not usually very good for you, especially the enormous ones that they sell at places like Giant or Costco (if you look at the nutrition facts, 1 serving is 1/3 of a muffin! I have never seen someone eat only 1/3!) I used to buy the Trader Joe's healthy muffins, but there was always something strange tasting about them. So I decided to make my own. I found this base recipe on a blog and made some modifications. My most recent modification was actually Christina's suggestion- substituting vanilla yogurt for oil, and it worked really well! They are relatively low fat and high in fiber from the oatmeal. Since Hirsh doesn't eat muffins, I make them and freeze them and microwave one before Saturday morning jazzercise-- a perfect pre-workout snack!

Healthy Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins
1 1/2 C oatmeal
1 1/4 C flour
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 C applesauce
1/2 C skim milk
1/2 C brown sugar
3 tbsp vanilla yogurt
2 tbsp oil
1 egg
1/2 C raisins (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Combine oatmeal, flour, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda.
3. Add applesauce, milk, brown sugar, yogurt, oil, egg and raisins.
4. Line muffin tins with papers or spray with non-stick spray.
5. Fill muffin tins about 3/4 full (makes 12-15 muffins).

6. Bake for 20 minutes.
7. Let cool and then remove from muffin tins.

8. Freezes very well!

Difficulty: Easy
Debbie's Rating: 10! (I love the vanilla yogurt-oil substitution. Adds flavor with no change in texture! Thanks again Christina!)
Hirsh's Rating: Hirsh doesn't eat muffins!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Creamy Parmesan "Pasta Side"

In college, Hirsh and I discovered these things called "pasta sides." They are made by a few different companies, and basically, they are similar to the rice mix concept, but they are pasta, not rice. They make quick and easy side dishes for chicken, fish or whatever, so we eat them probably once, maybe twice per week. I have recently been becoming more health conscious, particularly about sodium, and these packaged mixes are HUGE sodium culprits! So I decided that I wanted to try to make a "pasta side" of my own from scratch, without the "powder packet" and all of the sodium that comes with it.

To come up with the recipe, I looked at the seasonings (besides salt) on our "creamy parmesan" pasta side- parsley, garlic powder, dried onion and parmesan and decided to use those flavors. Then, I wanted to make the sauce creamy, so I decided to use a roux base for a mini cream sauce. What resulted was pretty tasty, a lot less salty, but also a lot more work. The roux requires pretty constant attention, but to have a healthier side dish, I think it is very worth it. I will use this as my base recipe and try out different spices and cheese additions to make different variations (Hirsh said he would have prefered a stronger cheese taste, so I will add cheddar next time). All and all, my first recipe that I designed from the ground up was a success!

Creamy Parmesan "Pasta Side"
1 C penne (I use Smart Taste for extra fiber and calcium)
1 1/2 tsp butter
1 1/2 tsp flour
1/2 C milk
2 tbsp grated parmesan
Garlic powder
Dried onion flakes
Salt (just a little!)

1. Boil water in a medium sauce pan.
2. Add penne and cook until al dente.
3. While the pasta is boiling, melt butter in a small stainless saucepan over medium heat and add flour, stirring constantly until you get a blonde roux (it will start to darken in color.)
4. Slowly add milk and stir constantly over medium heat until the sauce thickens (about 5 min).
5. Add 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese.
6. Add seasonings to taste.
7. Combine sauce with hot pasta. Serves 2 for a side dish.

Difficulty: Medium
Debbie's Rating: 9
Hirsh's Rating: 8.5

Monday, April 5, 2010

Grilled Steak and Roasted Potatoes with Oregano and Garlic-Infused Olive Oil

While Hirsh and I don't generally eat a lot of red meat, "steak and potatoes" is a great Passover meal since it doesn't feel like you are eating something that is kosher for Passover. Luckily, we had beautiful weather this weekend, so we decided grill for the first time this season. I wanted to flavor the steak a little beyond the traditional salt and pepper, so I looked in our Bobby Flay Grill-it cookbook, but most of the marinades required non-KP ingredients. I actually ended up using a modified fish marinade as a steak rub and it turned out to be delicious! I made double use of the marinade by also adding it to the roasted potatoes. Although we overcooked the meat (a common occurrence in my house) the steak was still flavorful and the dinner a success!

Grilled Steak and Roasted Potatoes with Oregano and Garlic- Infused Olive Oil
2 1/2-lb tenderloin steaks
8-10 mini red skin potatoes
1/4 C olive oil
1 Tbsp dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher Salt

1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Bring two 1/2-lb tenderloin steaks to room temperature for 20 minutes.
3. In a food processor, combine olive oil, oregano and minced garlic.
4. Cut red skin potatoes in half or leave whole if they are really tiny.
5. Parboil the potatoes for 10 minutes.
6. Add half of the oregano and garlic infused olive oil to the potatoes, toss to coat.
7. Roast potatoes in a foil-lined baking dish for 20 minutes at 425.
8. Dry meat, salt, pepper and then brush with olive oil mixture on both sides.

9. Preheat grill to high.
10. Grill on one side for 5 minutes (don't touch!)
11. Flip and grill on the other side for 5 minutes (we did 7...this seemed like too much for our meat thickness. 4-5 should do).
12. Let meat rest for 5 minutes on a plate, tented in foil.
13. Serve meat and potatoes coupled with your vegetable of choice!

Difficulty: Easy
Hirsh's Rating: 8
Debbie's Rating: 8

The flavor was really good...maybe next time we won't overcook the meat!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Matzah Lasagna

I found this recipe online when I was looking around for new ideas for Passover dinners. As dinners during Passover are mostly chicken or beef and some kind of potato side dish, this lasagna seemed like a nice break. I was a little skeptical, but it actually turned out pretty well. The matzah sucked up a lot of the moisture from the sauce, so it became very soft and "noodle-ish" by the end. I can't say I would make it during the year, but I will definitely make it again next Passover. So if you are sick of meat and potatoes and have a few matzah boards to spare, try it out!

Matzah Lasagna
3 boards matzah
Marinara sauce (Barilla has sugar instead of corn syrup and is KP in my book since all the ingredients are acceptable, or you can by actual KP sauce)
Cottage cheese (2%) (For some reason ricotta is not KP, so cottage cheese is a good substitute)
Shredded Mozarella cheese (2%)
1 10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Spread small amount of sauce to just cover bottom of 8 x 8 glass baking dish.
3. Run 1 piece of matzah under cold water for a few seconds, shake off excess water. Put on top of sauce layer.
4. Layer cottage cheese, half of spinach, more sauce and mozzarella (I didn't measure, just use enough to make a good layer)
5. Add another piece of wetted matzah, followed by another cottage cheese, spinach, sauce, mozzarella layer.
6. Top with 1 more wetted matzah, a hearty helping of sauce and a nice covering of mozzarella.

7. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
8. Let rest for 5 minutes and then cut and serve. Serves 4.

Difficulty: Easy
Debbie's Rating: 7- good for passover.
Hirsh's Rating: 8.5- would have a again next Passover!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Passover Chocolate Mandel Bread

Since you aren't supposed to eat bread on passover, it may seem strange to have a dish with the word "bread" in the name, but Mandel Bread, which is similar to biscotti, is a passover classic. It is great for dessert or as a snack during the day and despite not having any flour, it actually is fairly sturdy, and very tasty!

Passover Chocolate Mandel Bread
(2 loaves- serves a lot, make if you are bringing to a seder, use half recipe if just for you)

2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter
6 eggs
2 ¾ cups matzo cake meal (very finely ground matzah)
1 tsp. cinnamon mixed with 2 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
¾ cup potato starch
2 – 3 ounce bars bitter-sweet chocolate, broken into small pieces (they have KP chocolate at our Giant)

1. In mixing bowl cream sugar and room temperature butter.
2. Add eggs, one at a time beating after each addition.
3. Sift together cake meal, salt and starch.
4. Slowly fold dry ingredients into creamed mixture until combined.
5. Add chocolate and mix well.
6. Prepare two cookie sheets with foil sprayed with non-stick spray.
7. Form dough into into 2 loaves, each about 3” wide. The dough will be very sticky. Don't worry about getting it completely smooth at this point.

8. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture and pat down to smooth out.
9. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Slice while warm into 1/2“-1” slices. Freezes well.

Difficulty: Easy-medium
Debbie's Rating: 10
Hirsh's Rating: 9.5