Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Knock-You-Naked Brownies

If you're not on the South Beach Diet and craving an indulgence try these brownies. My hubby dubbed them "the best brownies you've ever made". I made them even "worse" by adding a sprinkle of chocolate covered toffee bits. Yum!


  • 1 stick butter, melted, plus more for greasing
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1/3 plus 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • One 18.5-ounce box German chocolate cake mix (I use Duncan Hines)
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 60 caramels, unwrapped 
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-by-9-inch baking pan.
Begin by pouring 1/3 cup evaporated milk into a bowl with the cake mix. Add the melted butter and the chopped pecans. Mix the ingredients together; it'll be pretty thick!
Divide the dough in half down the middle. Press half of it into the bottom of the prepared pan to make the first brownie layer. Bake until slightly set, 8 to 10 minutes. Then remove from the oven and set aside.
While the brownie layer is baking, in a double boiler (or glass bowl set over a bowl of simmering water) combine the caramels and the remaining 1/2 cup evaporated milk. Stir occasionally until the caramels are totally melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour the caramel mixture over the first baked layer, spreading so it's evenly distributed. Sprinkle the chocolate chips all over the top.
Next, on a clean surface or a sheet of waxed paper, press the remaining dough into a square shape slightly smaller than the baking pan. Carefully set it on top of the chocolate chips. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let the brownies cool to room temperature. Cover the pan and refrigerate the brownies for several hours to allow them to set.
When you're ready to serve them (or give them to someone you love!) sprinkle generously with the powdered sugar and cut them into large rectangles before removing from the pan. These are absolutely killer, my friends. Make them for someone you really, really love... or someone you want to love you back.
It'll work. Guarantee it. **From The Pioneer Woman**

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chicken, Black Bean and Cilantro Soup

I love cilantro, yes I do! I love cilantro, how about you? This is one of my favorite South Beach recipes. It's delicious whether you are dieting or not! Taken from Kayln'sKichen.


1 small diced onion
1 cup diced celery, plus celery leaves
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp garlic powder
4 cups chicken stock/broth
1 can vegetable broth
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 cup salsa
6-8 drops Tabasco Sauce (optional - I left it out and it still had a nice little kick)
1 or 2 cans black beans (drained and rinsed)
2 cups finely diced cooked chicken
1 cup chopped cilantro
3 tbsp fresh lime juice (or bottled lime juice)


Saute onions and celery in olive oil 3-5 minutes in large pot. Add the ground cumin, chile powder, celery seed, and garlic and saute about 2 minutes more.

Add the chicken stock, vegetable broth, tomatoes, and salsa, and simmer 10 minutes. Add Tabasco if desired. Add black beans and chicken and simmer 15-20 minutes more.

After 15-20 minutes, add the chopped cilantro and simmer 5 minutes, then add lime juice and cook 2-3 minutes more.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

South Beach Diet 2012

Last year I went on the South Beach Diet in order to lose some weight. I was at a place where my eating was a little out of control and I needed to decide whether to buy new clothes in bigger sizes or go on a serious diet. I lost 12 lbs! Most of that I kept off all year, but around the holidays some of it was creeping back on.

I decided to start the SBD again in January. It really does amaze me how quickly my body loses the carb-cravings! I feel healthier, slimmer and proud of myself for exercising a little (okay, a LOT) of self-control.

Phase One is the hardest. It's two weeks of no sugar, fruit, breads, and limited vegetables. Basically a lot of eggs, cheese and meat. I was thrilled to find Kalyn's Kitchen, a food blog with tons of phase one recipes. Most of my recipes come from her site.

Last year, I posted some of my favorite recipes that came out of phase one. Here's my list from this year:

Breakfast Crepes with Ricotta Cocoa Filling
Zucchini Frittata Ricotta
Egg Muffins with Ham, Cheese and Green Pepper

Main Dishes:
Chicken, Black Bean and Cilantro Soup
Grilled Zucchini and Sausage Kabobs
Spicy Asian Lettuce Wraps

Homemade Sugar-free Greek Salad Dressing
Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps

Peanut Butter Muffins
Jelled Ricotta Pudding

South Beach Peanut Butter Muffins

One of the things I miss most during phase one of the South Beach Diet is the loss of baked goods. Breads, cookies, rolls, muffins, cakes... *sigh.*  This year, I found a recipe for muffins, using ground flax seed and ground almonds instead of flour.  They will not win any tasting contest, but man did they hit the spot when a baked-good craving hit!

1/2 cup egg whites (2-3 eggs)
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup ground almonds (* My Magic Bullet did a great job on this!)
1/4 cup Splenda granular, sugar substitute (* I used Stevia. This has a "different" aftertaste to it. If you're not used to it, I would use Splenda or another sugar substitute).
1/2 cup natural-style peanut butter
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Melt peanut butter in microwave for 1 minute or until smooth.
  • Mix all ingredients together.
  • Pour into mini muffin cups (24 cup tray), and bake 15 minutes.
*FYI - I received a Babycakes Cupcake Maker for Christmas. This was the first time I tried it out and it worked great! As you can see from the photo, it makes mini-muffins, but the non-stick meant I didn't need to use any liners. 

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Herbed Beef Tenderloin


  • 1 (3 pound) whole beef tenderloin, trimmed
  • 2 teaspoons olive or canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper


  1. Tie tenderloin at 2-in. intervals with kitchen string. Combine oil and garlic; brush over meat. Combine the basil, rosemary, salt and pepper; sprinkle evenly over meat. Place on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, at 425 degrees F for 40-50 minutes or until meat reaches desired doneness (for medium-rare, a meat thermometer should read 145 degrees F; medium, 160 degrees F; well-done, 170 degrees F). Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

Creamy Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes


  • 3 pounds potatoes (about 9 medium), peeled and cubed
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 bacon strips, chopped
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 green onions, chopped


  • Place potatoes in a Dutch oven and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain; mash potatoes with cream cheese, sour cream and butter. Stir in milk and seasonings.
  • In a small skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon; drain.
  • Transfer potato mixture to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish; sprinkle with cheese, onions and bacon. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 40-50 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 10 servings.

Green Bean Bundles

Green Bean Bundles
adapted from The Pastry Queen Christmas, by Rebecca Rather
yields 6-8 servings

                1 1/2 lbs green beans, washed and trimmed
                1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
                1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
                1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
                2 cloves garlic, minced
                1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
                8 ounces of bacon, each piece cut in half width-wise
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat, and blanch the beans 3-4 minutes, or until they are bright green in color and pliable but still very crunchy.  Drain and run them under cold water.  Place in a shallow, ovenproof casserole dish and pat dry with a paper towel.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the garlic, mustard, salt, and brown sugar.  Pour the mixture over the green beans, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375.  Gather 8-9 beans at a time and make bundles.  Wrap with a slice of the (halved) bacon, and lie seam-side down in a greased baking sheet or casserole dish.  Pour remaining marinade over the top.

Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until the bacon is cooked through and the beans look wrinkled.  Cook under the broiler for an additional 1-2 minutes to crisp the bacon even more, if desired.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cracker Barrel Hashbrown Casserole

2 lbs frozen hash browns
1/2 cup margarine or 1/2 cup butter , melted
1 (10 1/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1 pint sour cream
1/2 cup onion , peeled and chopped
2 cups cheddar cheese , grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 Preheat oven to 350°F and spray an 11 x 14 baking dish with cooking spray.
2 Mix the above ingredients together, place in prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes or until brown on top.

Servings: 10-12

Read more: http://www.food.com/recipe/cracker-barrels-hashbrowns-casserole-copycat-15242#ixzz1iWRhDOHQ

Crab and Cheese Brunch Bake


  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 6 English muffins, split
  • 8 ounces lump crabmeat, drained
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup half-and-half cream
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped sweet red pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped sweet yellow pepper


  • Spread mustard over bottom half of muffins. Place in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Top with crab, lemon juice and peel. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Top with muffin tops; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, milk, mayonnaise, salt, cayenne and pepper. Pour over muffins; sprinkle with Swiss cheese, Parmesan cheese, onions and peppers. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Cover and bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 20-25 minutes longer or until set. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Yield: 12 servings.

Baked Blueberry Pecan French Toast Bake



  1. 1
    Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. 2
    Spread the pecan halves evenly on a baking sheet.
  3. 3
    Toast them until fragrant, about 8 minutes.
  4. 4
    Sprinkle the salt over the pecans and toss evenly to coat; set aside.
  5. 5
    Butter a 9- by 13-inch baking dish.
  6. 6
    Cut the baguette into 1 1/2 inch thick slices and arrange them in an even layer in the baking dish. If some of the bread slices won't fit, save them for another use - note that if you stack slices, the cooking time will increase.
  7. 7
    Whisk together the eggs, milk, 1/2 cup of the brown sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg in a large bowl, and pour the mixture evenly over the bread. Turn the bread slices to coat them evenly.
  8. 8
    Chill the mixture, covered with plastic wrap, until all the liquid is absorbed by the bread, at least 8 hours or overnight.
  9. 9
    Preheat the oven to 400°F Take the baking dish from the refrigerator and let sit for about 30 minutes to take some of the chill off.
  10. 10
    Just before baking, sprinkle the pecans and blueberries evenly over the soaked bread.
  11. 11
    Combine the butter with the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is melted. Drizzle the butter mixture over the bread.
  12. 12
    Bake until blueberry juices are bubbling around the edge of the pan and the bread is heated through, 20 to 25 minutes.
  13. 13
    To make blueberry syrup:.
  14. 14
    Cook the blueberries and maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until most of the blueberries burst, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  15. 15
    Pour the syrup through a sieve into a heatproof pitcher, pressing on the solids to extract as much blueberry flavor as possible.
  16. 16
    Stir in the lemon juice.
  17. 17
    Set the pitcher in a pan of warm water to keep warm until ready to serve.

Read more: http://www.food.com/recipe/baked-blueberry-pecan-french-toast-with-blueberry-syrup-267586#ixzz1iWQhrzFW