Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cinco De Mayo Roundup

It's time to get your fiesta on!

Cinco De Mayo lands on Sunday this year.  What a perfect day for a celebration!  The weather is warming up, so it's fitting to take it easy, have some delicious Latin inspired food with some beer or margaritas!  How fun is that?

And that's just what we are going to do.  I think that Tacos and beer are in order.  So for my menu I'll be making one of my most popular dishes, Chicken Verde Tacos.  YUM!  The flavor of these tacos wins over the crowds every time.  

To inspire you further I'm bringing you some of my most popular posts that are Latin inspired.  Some items for your to choose your celebratory menu from.  Ole!  Have a wonderful Cinco De Mayo, and don't forget to tell me what you are planning for your day!


Salsa Roja

Black Bean Salsa


Crunchy Baja Salad

Chicken Guacamole Salad

Side Dishes

Jazzed Up Refried Beans

Easy Mexican Rice


Main Dishes

Chili marinated Pork Tenderloin 

Chicken Milanesa

Beef Enchiladas

Beth's Favorite Chicken Enchiladas


Mexican Chocolate Pudding

Strawberry Banana Parfait

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Carrot Cake with Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting

It's time for the dessert in our Spring Brunch!

Nothing says spring like carrot cake in my book.  One of my favorite cakes, that I rarely get a chance to make.  But the craving comes every spring.  This year I caved in and made this slightly adapted version from Cooking Light.  It's a little healthier than the normal carrot cake which was my justification. (A girl's gotta have a justification sometimes!)

This cake has the addition of flax seed meal, giving this cake more fiber, and therefore also a more dense cake.  Almost the texture of a bran muffinIt's not the lightest cake around but it does have great flavor, and makes a pretty presentation.  

You also don't ice this cake fully.  The icing is a lighter version as well, with a little bit of cream cheese which gives it just enough tang.  It really does look pretty with the strategically placed icing.

Great for brunch, and can anyone say Mother's Day? 

Carrot Cake with Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup flax seed meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups shredded carrot (about 6 medium)
1 cup refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed, or 4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1/2 cup packed brown sugar 
1/2 cup canola oil
1 recipe Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting
Coarsely shredded carrot (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour two 8 inch round cake pans.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, flax seed meal, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In another large bowl, combine finely shredded carrot, eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir until combined. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans, spreading evenly.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes for 8-inch pans.  Cool cakes in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire racks. Cool completely.

Place one cooled cake layer on a serving platter. Top with half of the Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting. Place the second cake layer atop the frosting; spread with the remaining frosting. If desired, garnish with coarsely shredded carrot. Makes 14 to 16 servings.

Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting

YIELD: 3/4 cup

2 ounces softened reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups frozen light whipped dessert topping

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until smooth. Thaw 1-1/2 cups frozen light whipped dessert topping. Fold about 1/2 cup of the topping into the cream cheese mixture to lighten. Fold in the remaining whipped topping. Makes about 1-3/4 cups.

adapted from Cooking Light

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Edamame and Orange Salad

Time for something pretty and healthy.

Do you snack on edamames?  So many people do.  They've become such a popular food item over the last several years.  I never have really gotten in to them.  Until now.

I recently took a great cooking class over at Williams-Sonoma.  The kind where you sit down at a nice place setting, real plates and flatware, watch the chef create tremendous dishes, and then EAT!

A night of healthy, fresh dishes was in order.  They were all wonderful, but this particular salad stood out.  All fresh ingredients with a lot of protein and vitamins.  Super easy to make, and a perfect side dish.

We were having a potluck at work several days later so I decided to make this salad and surprise all the "healthy addicts" I work with.  The loved it!  The dressing is so light and fresh it really stands out in this salad.  So don't skip the dressing...it makes the dish!

Spring is a perfect time to try this salad.  Oranges are still in season, so grab some and make this right away!  Great for a brunch, picnic, or a grilling party!  It would even go great with your Cinco De Mayo party!


Edamame and Orange Salad

adapted from Williams-Sonoma
Serves 4

1 package (10 or 12 oz.) frozen shelled edamame
2 navel oranges
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
3 Tbs. rice vinegar
2 Tbs. canola oil
1 tsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
1/2 tsp. peeled and grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Place edamame in a large bowl and set aside to thaw.
Cut a thick slice off the top and bottom of each orange to reveal the flesh. Stand the orange upright on a cutting board. Following the contour of the fruit and rotating it with each cut, slice downward to remove the peel, pith and membrane. Holding the fruit over the bowl of edamame, cut along each side of the membrane between the sections, letting each freed section drop into the bowl.  Squeeze excess membranes over a small bowl to get any remaining orange juice.  Set aside.

Add onion and bell pepper to the large bowl.

In the small bowl with the orange juice, add the rice vinegar, canola oil, soy sauce, orange zest and ginger.  Whisk until blended.

Pour the dressing over the vegetables and stir gently to mix. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with the cilantro and serve.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Spring Brunch: Ginger and Herb Roasted Pork Loin

 Next up in my Spring Brunch series....the Main Course

Time to lighten things up and that is just what I did by picking a pork loin roast to make as the main course.  What a wonderful cut of meat.  It servers a ton of people.  It is so versatile that it can take on so many different flavors and produce a completely different dish every time. Asian, Italian, fall flavors?  You can do it all.

It's a lean cut of meat.  It's good for you.  Plus it comes out very moist.  What's better than that?

I chose a combination of herbs and ginger preserves.  I wanted something light for spring, slightly spice and slightly sweet, with a touch of "herby-ness".  This combination is so delicate that is end result is juicy and tasty.  

Again, this is a dish that is easy to make.  Pop it in the oven with all the ingredients on it and wait....

This would be perfect for Mother's Day.  Treat the whole family!

Ginger and Herb Roasted Pork Loin

Serves 8

1 (2-pound) boneless pork loin roast, trimmed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme sprigs
1/4 cup chopped fresh marjoram
1/2 cup ginger preserves  

Pat pork dry with a paper towel.  Sprinkle pork with pepper.  Place pork on the rack of a roasting pan. Combine thyme and marjoram in a small bowl.  Spread ginger preserves over the top and sides of pork.  Pat herbs all over pork combining with preserves, covering tops and sides well.  Place rack with pork in pan. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 325° (do not remove pork from oven); bake 30 minutes. Place pork on a platter; let stand 15 minutes before cutting into 1/2-inch slices.


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