After a long harsh winter, it is finally spring! Yes it is a bit rainy and damp – but at least it is not snowing! This time of year is still a good time for comfort-food! And pizza is on the top of my list for comfort food! I have a few more cast iron skillet pizza recipes to post – this version I made as part of our Super Bowl weekend – but it would be delicious at any time! In Buffalo chicken wings are very popular but they are not too good for you from a health perspective. This is a great alternative since the chicken is not deep-fried but yet is shaken in the wonderful original Buffalo wing sauce! There is no other wing sauce for me except the Original Anchor Bar sauce. The Anchor Bar, located in Buffalo, original owners are typically given credit with making chicken wings popular! Click here to go to the Anchor Bar website. Click here for an article with a bit more history about chicken wings!
I love using the Original Anchor Bar Buffalo Wing Sauce instead of the traditional pizza sauce. Use whatever heat you like and consider serving extra wing sauce and blue cheese sauce on the side. Or better yet drizzle more wing sauce or blue cheese sauce on the pizza once it comes out of the oven! With this pizza there is no need to serve carrots and celery on the side since it is part of the pizza! This version is fun to make and even more fun to eat!
Below are a few pictures of assembling this pizza. I start with a pre-made whole wheat pizza dough from Wegmans (our local grocery store) to save a bit of time. Since the dough is kept in the refrigerator, just leave it at room temperature for about 30-minute to rise. The warmer the dough the easier it is to form to the cast iron skillet. Then layer on the ingredients and go heavy on the carrots and celery!
10-inch Cast Iron Skillet
¼ cup Original Anchor Bar Buffalo Wing Sauce
½ cup Carrots, sliced thin
½ cup Celery, sliced thin
4 ounces Cooked Chicken, cubed
⅓ to ⅔ cup Mixed Pizza Cheese, shredded
Crumbled Blue Cheese for garnish
Whole Wheat Pizza dough – 14 ounces
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Season the cast iron skillet. Roll out pizza dough into desired size and place in the cast iron skillet. Let it rest for a few minutes. Add Original Anchor Bar Buffalo Wing Sauce as the sauce. Top with carrots and celery. Shake the cooked chicken in Original Anchor Bar Buffalo Wing Sauce and add to the pizza. Top with mixed pizza cheese. Bake for about 20 to 25-minutes.
Top with crumbled blue cheese as the garnish and serve with extra blue cheese and Original Anchor Bar Buffalo Wing Sauce to dip your pizza in!
Are you living in a cold climate experiencing bitter cold temps or experiencing rainy damp days? Do you come home after being outside trying to get warm? Give this delicious soup a chance – it has a nice level of spices and heat! A few years ago, I made a similar recipe – click here for recipe. My first experience tasting this fantastic soup was in New Hampshire and it quickly became one of my favorites. Every night I ordered this soup asking the server the ingredients allowing me to take quick notes. Then much research was conducted to figure out a recipe. A soup with cashews and pistachios! Doesn’t get much better.
At work we had a chili and soup cook-off and I brought this soup with some minor changes from the original. A co-worker, Priya provided a few tips to make it even better. To thicken the broth, puree the cashews and save a few for garnish. Determine if you want a thin broth or a thicker soup to identify how much chicken broth to add. A thicker soup could be served over rice.
For the chicken marinade I use chili powder (red chili powder will add more heat). Another option is to use a food processor to make a paste using a hot chili pepper. For less heat deseed the hot chili pepper. Most likely I will stick with the chili powder but if you try a chili pepper let me know how it comes out!
The spices are really approximate. If you are unsure of their flavor and heat, use them sparingly and perform a taste test. This soup should have some heat to it. Ideally the heat comes on after you do your taste test. If adding more chicken broth when rewarming the soup add more curry and chili powder. Be sure to use fresh ginger – not ginger powder. It takes a few minutes to grate it into a paste but it is worth the time. If that is too much work, consider purchasing ginger paste.
There is coconut milk and coconut cream – sweetened and unsweetened. Sweetened is nice to offset the heat. Try to get the coconut cream (full fat) to drizzle on top of the soup when serving. I tried a low-fat version and it is too watery as a topping. For this version, I bought coconut milk, which is fine to add to the soup but cannot be used as a topping.
This soup is just fantastic with a ton of flavor but a challenge to take photos. Try to garnish with cilantro and consider shredding a carrot to add more nice color. Enjoy the experience of this delicious soup!!
2 Large Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (about 2 ½ cups)
2 tbsp Chili Powder (red for more heat) or chili ginger paste
1 to 2 tbsp Ginger, freshly grated into a paste (or purchase ginger paste)
1 tbsp Garlic, minced
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Salt
Grapeseed – a little to cook the chicken
Marinade chicken for at least 3-hours
1 Large Sweet Onion, chopped
1 cup Carrots, chopped or diced
½ cup Red Bell Pepper, chopped
½ cup Celery Stalks – tender pieces, chopped
1 Large or 2 Small Tart Apples, peeled, core, and diced
1 tbsp Grapeseed Oil
1 tbsp Curry Powder
¼ tsp Nutmeg, freshly ground
¼ tsp Cloves
½ tsp Cumin
½ tsp Turmeric
½ tsp Ground Cardamom
1 tbsp Chili Powder
4 cups Chicken Broth, low sodium
½ cup Coconut Milk, optional
1/2 cup Cashews, Raw
1/2 cup Pistachios, No Salt
Wash and cube your chicken into bite size pieces. Mix your marinade ingredients. It should be a thick paste. If it is too dry, add a little grapeseed oil, I like to use grapeseed oil infused with lemon. Marinade for at least 3-hours.
Cook the chicken in a little grapeseed oil. Deglaze the pan with chicken stock to get all the wonderful marinade that remains baked on the pan.
Heat the Olive Oil in your soup pan and add onions – cook until soft. Then add the remaining ingredients, except for the chopped apples, and simmer for about 5-minutes.
Always be sure to add your curry powder at the beginning of your cooking as the heat does increase the aroma. Typically you use ¼ tsp for 2 servings – but as you can see, I like to add a lot more than that!
Nutmeg and cloves are also used sparingly and since I added a lot of curry powder to this recipe I used less of them. Cloves are typically added at the beginning of cooking as the heat creates more flavor. Nutmeg is typically added near the end of cooking so you could add this ingredient later in cooking if you prefer. Plus more salt might be needed to take a few taste tests throughout making this soup.
If you are uncomfortable with these spices then add maybe half of them as you can always add more. But remember this soup should have a lot of flavor! Add the spices to the soup and blend well. Stir well and cook for about a minute. Add your chicken broth and bring to boil. Then simmer for about 30-minutes.
Puree the cashews in a food processor to make a cashew paste and add to the soup to thicken the broth. Add the pistachios near the end of cooking for them to soften. Also add a handful of roughly chopped cashews to the soup for additional flavor or use as a garnish.
You add cilantro at the end of cooking since prolonged heat reduces its flavor. When you are almost ready to serve add your cilantro and heat through. I would also lower the heat to a simmer at this point. Cilantro mixes nicely with curry powder, nuts, and lemon juice so it is perfect for this dish! It has a faint licorice flavor.
I like to ladle my soup into a bowl and then drizzle a little coconut cream and then enjoy the experience!
Many of us enjoy our desserts but need to watch our calories – this Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake is a perfect solution! And in my opinion, a dessert that is topped with a healthy serving of fruit – has to be great! This Chocolate Shortcake provides the perfect base providing different opportunities for toppings.
My preference is a mixture of strawberries and blueberries; however you could add other berries such as raspberries. A reduced balsamic glaze is just perfect with berries!! It drizzles beautifully on the plate and is just delicious so be sure to make enough. If you are like me there is always an extra serving of fruit that tends to take over the chocolate shortcake.
For toppings, there are so many options in addition to how I assemble the shortcake. A bit of whipped cream (from the can or homemade) is a nice touch on the side – elegant like an expensive restaurant. Topped with a nice piece of mint, which is delightful to the taste buds. If you have a dark chocolate bar, sprinkle some shavings over the plate – it looks wonderful especially on the whipped cream.
It looks nice on a white plate allowing all the colors and ingredients to be showcased.
The best option, however, is a darker dinner plate for presenting this beautiful dessert! There is more room for the fruit, whipped cream, and the balsamic glaze. And as mentioned earlier, I like a lot of fruit!!
It also works well as a birthday or other celebration as you can line up the plates in multiple rows and it looks so nice!
Shortcake Dry Ingredients
2 cups flour
⅓ cup and 1 tbsp sugar
⅓ cup and 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
Wet and Chocolate Ingredients
½ cup unsalted butter very cold, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
7-ounces dark chocolate chunks
2/3 cup plain yogurt
About ⅔ cup skim milk
1 cup of good Balsamic Vinegar
2 tbsp Maple Syrup or Brown Sugar
Grated Dark Chocolate
Mint for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse several times to combine ingredients. Add butter and pulse for a few seconds until the butter is incorporated into small pebbles. Place this mixture into a bowl and stir in chocolate chips. Add the yogurt and milk then stir until just combined. You may need to only add some of the milk since you do not want the dough too wet.
Prepare a board and your hands with flour and then by using your hands take about ⅓ of the dough and pat it into a 1-inch thick square. Cut into desired shapes and sizes – a heart cookie cutter would be nice!
I used a 3-inch round juice glass to cut out the shortcakes for about 16 to 18 and place on the prepared baking pan. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter and sprinkle on the remaining tablespoon of sugar.
Bake the shortcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out without any batter on it for about 15-minutes.
While the shortcakes are baking prepare your balsamic dressing by placing balsamic vinegar in a pan with some brown sugar or maple syrup. Bring to a slow boil and reduce to desired thickness. The amount of brown sugar or maple syrup you add depends upon thickness and sweetness. I find it best to carefully take a few taste tests (it will be hot) to determine how much brown sugar or maple syrup to add.
The Chocolate Shortcakes can be served warm or at room temperature. Add your toppings that you enjoy and serve!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day with a slightly different version of Guinness Beef Stew! This year’s version includes some wonderful parsnips, turnips, and raisins adding a nice sweet undertone! Before adding the vegetables to the stew, I roasted them in the oven to bring out their flavors – the house smelled wonderful with so many aromas!
If you do not like Guinness you may wonder if the Guinness overpowers this stew. Personally I do not care for beer (any beer) but this is a very nice broth. The combination of Guinness Stout, beef broth, and worcestershire sauce blends together nicely! Depending upon your preference of beef ratio to vegetables stay at the lower end of the vegetable measurements within this recipe for a more beef based stew.
This year’s Guinness Beef Stew has the dumplings made as part of the stew instead of baked in the oven. It does make a nice presentation if you are formally serving this stew. Do you have a preference between dumplings and biscuits? Personally I like them baked so they are a bit crunchy and not soggy on the bottom – plus they have the lighter texture from baking. The below picture is before the dumplings were steamed.
I hope everyone has a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day!!
Guinness Beef Stew Ingredients
2 pounds boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large sweet onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, sliced
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 (11.2-ounce) bottle Guinness Stout
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 to 2 cups carrots, sliced
1 1/2 to 2 cups parsnip, chopped
1 to 1 ½ cup peeled turnip, chopped
2 tbsp raisins
Salt and black pepper, freshly ground
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Cheddar Herb Dumplings Ingredients
1 ½ cups flour
¾ tsp salt
2 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar
⅔ cup milk, skim
1-2 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Add canola oil in a Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat. Add beef to pan and brown on all sides. Remove beef from pan with a slotted spoon.
Add onion and celery to pan; cook for a few minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato paste, worcestershire sauce, beef broth, Guinness Stout, and bay leaf scraping pan to loosen browned bits.
Return meat to pan and simmer for about an hour. Optional: In another pan or in the oven, caramelize the vegetables before adding to the pot with the beef. Stir in remaining ingredients, and simmer for about 30-minutes.
Stir together the Cheddar Herb Dumplings ingredients. Make small balls with the dough and add them to the stew. Cover and cook on medium-low for about 25- to 30-minutes, or until dumplings are firm.
Garnish the Guinness Beef Stew with more parsley and serve! A glass of red wine would also be a good compliment to this dish!
I keep telling myself that every day is one day closer to Spring and nicer weather! One day that will be true – hopefully once we get past St. Patrick’s Day the weather will settle down and stop snowing! As I write this it is snowing with a potential of two more inches! It was a busy week at work and an emotional one for Trekkies as we lost Leonard Nimoy – a talented actor and a warm individual. Every day I read wonderful tributes to Leonard including what Star Trek and Mr. Spock meant to them. Some of them had the privilege to meet Leonard and get his signature. On The Testers Edge I wrote my tribute on the influence of Star Trek and Mr. Spock on my life and career. So many people I talk to in the tech field has a similar story to mine – Star Trek started their love affair with technology. Shows like Big Bang Theory had their own tribute to him. Leonard lived a long and prosperous life while touching the lives of so many people! What a legacy he leaves behind!
For today’s posting I am continuing the dessert series! Most people love cheesecake – bring a cheesecake to a party and you are a hero! In the past I have made the quick refrigerator version that is great for the summer. However, a baked cheesecake is a different story. For Christmas my mother bought me a springform pan so it was time to finally make my first baked cheesecake! Of course much research was conducted on how to make a cheesecake, how long to bake it and how to know when it should be taken out of the oven. The cheesecake should jiggle slightly in the middle because it will firm up over night. Admittedly, I was a bit nervous about under-baking and over-baking the cheesecake. Upon checking it a couple of times it seemed to jiggle to far past the center and finally it jiggle in the center and seemed like it might be ready to come out of the oven! The difficult part of a cheesecake is waiting until the next day for the taste test!
Some of the calories are reduced by only using two packages of fat-free cream cheese. Most recipes call for three packages of full-fat cream cheese. The chocolate graham crackers, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips makes this a decadent cheesecake and you do not lose any flavor by using fat-free cream cheese. In fact this is a very rich cheesecake and you may consider reducing some of the chocolate to make it less rich. It was an enjoyable cheesecake but I could only eat a small slice at a time since I don’t typically eat rich desserts! But I would make it again!
A traditional cheesecake is delicate requiring a light hand for any topping – perhaps a nice blueberry or strawberry syrup. This chocolate cheesecake is dense but you still want to use a light hand with the topping even though it is firmer than a lot of other cheesecakes. And of course you could skip the topping and it will still be delicious! This recipe is adapted from Food Network.
1 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp egg white
¼ cup sugar
16 chocolate graham cracker sheets
About 3-ounces of sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted
4 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp Rum
4 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, fat-free at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup sour cream, low-fat
½ tbsp Rum
Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Combine crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form – they should be moist – if too dry add a little more egg white. Firmly press crumb mixture into the bottom and sides of the springform pan. Bake for about 10 minutes and let cool on a wire rack.
Toast the coconut and pecans in a frying pan on the stove top and transfer to a small bowl for later. Pulse the pecans in the food processor until coarsely chopped and transfer to a small bowl for later. Whisk together the remaining ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. (You cannot whisk the butter since it is not melted but I like to use a whisk for the other ingredients.) Simmer for about 10-minutes over low to medium heat until the mixture reduces and caramelize slightly. Periodically stir – be careful to not boil the mixture. Stir in the chopped pecans and coconut reserving some of the coconut for the topping. Set aside to cool.
Fill a roasting pan halfway with water and set on the lower oven rack – preheat oven to 350. Clean the food processor and add the cream cheese – pulse until blended. Add eggs and pulse until blended. Add dry ingredients and pulse until blended – about 2 minutes. Add and blend the sour cream and vanilla. Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl at 30-seconds intervals until melted. Add the melted chocolate to the food processor and pulse until combined.
Transfer about half of the cheesecake batter to the prepared crust smoothing with a spatula. Spoon about two-thirds of the topping evenly over the batter. Top with the remaining batter; smooth the top. Set on the middle oven rack (directly over the pan of water) and bake until set around the edge but the center still jiggle slightly, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 8 hours or overnight.
Run a thin knife around the edge of the cheesecake and remove the springform ring. Microwave the remaining topping to soften, about 30 seconds (stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons water to loosen, if necessary). Spread on top of the cheesecake; top with the reserved coconut.
For today’s recipe I am sharing a healthier version of a carrot cake. Nothing is better than a slice of carrot cake! It has always been a favorite dessert of both my father and me. But unfortunately a lot of recipes are made with a lot of oil plus butter and can be as high as 1,000 calories a slice! I do not know about you, but that is far too many calories for me! To celebrate my father and my birthday, I made this healthy carrot cake recipe and had fun decorating with nuts, pumpkin seeds, and carrots.
I love this recipe because it is loaded with a ton of great spices and instead of olive oil I used applesauce – it is a great substitute plus makes a moist cake. For the frosting I made a blend of tofu, light cream cheese, powdered sugar and light buttermilk. Since buttermilk is part of the cake ingredients it seemed like a good idea to add it to the frosting. It was really good even with eliminating the butter.
The measurements are approximate for the frosting – best to take your taste tests to determine the ratios. My preference is a thinner icing as the two inch cream cheese frosting is not appealing to me. Typically it is scraped off the cake! Another option is to eliminate the frosting and lightly dust the cake with powdered sugar.
Cake Dry Ingredients
2 1/2 cups Flour
1 1/2 cups Packed Dark Brown Sugar or ¾ cup Splenda Brown Sugar
1 ½ tsp Soda
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
½ tsp Ginger
1/2 tsp Cloves
1/2 tsp Salt
½ cup Pecans, Chopped (optional)
½ to ¾ cup Light Cream Cheese
⅓ cup Powdered Sugar
½ cup Firm Tofu
6 tbsp Buttermilk, low-fat
Optional Toppings Ingredients
Toasted nuts such as pecans, walnuts (whole or chopped)
Shredded Carrots or Coconut
Raw Pumpkin Seeds
Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine dry ingredients except for the pecans. Mix together the wet ingredients except for the carrots and orange zest. Slowly add and blend the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Fold in the pecans, carrots, and orange zest.
Prepare either a 13×9 inch baking pan or two round baking pans. Spray and flour pans or consider using baking parchment paper. Spread batter into pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake completely on a wire rack.
To prepare the frosting, place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Then have fun decorating your carrot cake!
This year our winter in the Northeast consists of arctic air from Canada and far too much snow! Somehow it does not seem fair to have wind chills of -20 degree fahrenheit (or -29 Celsius) and it still snows! Heavy sweaters are a must and driving with gloves is also imperative (I dislike driving with gloves). Of course it is still flu and cold season on top of the frigid weather! Comfort food becomes more important than ever and including a lot of healthy foods. Chicken soup is known for its healing properties and if you have a cold or are not feeling well, mothers will say “have a bowl of chicken soup!” Previously I did make a chicken soup that ended up being a chicken stew with so many noodles. It was really good but I wanted a more traditional version but yet with a lot of flavor and of course those healing properties. Click here for Ginger Chicken Noodle Soup (or stew when I make it!).
One does wonder if Chicken Noodle soup really helps you heal and boost your immune system or if its warmth is just comforting when one is sick. I ran across some interesting research from University of Nebraska Medical Center physician/researcher Stephen Rennard, M.D on a study conducted to test this theory. You can draw your own conclusion and below are a few links with more information.
Regardless of your conclusion on its health benefits, this recipe for Chicken Noodle soup is excellent! A lot of great flavor and it is the ultimate comfort food on a bitter cold winter day. If you are feeling a bit under the weather it would be comforting. I served it with some nice hot, crusty French bread.
The combination of the different vegetables adds a nice flavor to the broth and there are sweet undertones to this soup. Add some fresh parsley near the end of simmering the soup for a mellow and sweet flavor.
I adapted this wonderful soup from the original recipe based upon Grandma’s Recipe that was part of the original study. I like how the grandmother placed all the vegetables in a food processor to chop them finely so ensure all her children got their vegetables. A wise woman who even when money / food was short was creative to provide nutrients to her children. Doesn’t this soup look just delicious!! I love all the vegetables and colors.
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
2 cups Parsnips, chopped
1 ½ cups Turnips, chopped
2 cups Carrots, chopped
2 cups Butternut Squash, chopped
10 cups Chicken Broth
Freshly Ground Pepper
2 cups cooked Chicken, chopped (I use a rotisserie chicken)
2 Bay Leaves
Soup Noodles such as Filini pasta
About two handful of Flat-Leaf Parsley, chopped
Heat olive oil in a large soup pan and saute the chopped onions for a few minutes. In the meantime start chopping your vegetables and add them to the soup pan as they are chopped. I like to let mine roast a bit in the soup pan before adding any liquids to start releasing their flavor.
Add chicken broth, chicken, salt, pepper, bay leaves, and a lot of basil. Let simmer for about an hour or so. Then add some freshly chopped parsley near the end of cooking and boil the soup noodles. I like to make them separately and add them to the soup as it is being served. Too many times I found that the noodles soaked up the broth when reheating the next day! Boil the amount of noodles you feel will be required including any leftovers. Store the cooked noodles in a small bowl with some chicken broth. When ready to serve, spoon the desired amount of noodles into a soup bowl, ladle in some soup, and top with more fresh parsley if desired. Serve with crusty French bread!