Monthly Archives

November 2011


Rachael Ray: The FInale

November 18, 2011
By now I think that many of you have seen the finale of “Hey, Can You Cook?! All-Stars”. If not, head on over here to watch. I won’t spoil the ending for those of you who are planning to watch this afternoon or have it recorded on a DVR. 
But since the final episode has now aired, I figured it was high time I shared the rest of the photos on my iPhone from the finale, as well as the little video above. One of our fellow competitors, Tim, thought he was taking a photo of Tamar and me when it was actually a video recording. 
I wanted to also say a huge THANK YOU to each and every one of you who watched the show along the way, sent me encouraging e-mails and Facebook messages, Tweeted along with me and cheered from a distance. You all made the experience so much more fun, and I can’t tell you how much it means to me. 

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


Healthier Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

November 17, 2011

I promise that once Thanksgiving has come and gone, I will return to posting things that aren’t filled with pumpkin. But my love for the stuff is still going strong, and I intend to keep baking with pumpkin until Turkey day arrives.

Last weekend I spent a little time scouring magazines looking for recipes for our family Thanksgiving. I don’t know about you all, but on Thanksgiving I prefer to indulge responsibly. There is nothing I hate more than the “oh my gosh I feel so full I want to die” feeling. It’s really less about calorie consumption and more about how I feel after eating a huge meal and the days following. Also known as Thanksgiving hangover.

When I spotted a recipe for Pumpkin-Almond Cheesecake in Cooking Light’s November issue, I knew I had to give it a try. Instead of making the almond cake that was intended as the bottom layer, I used a crispy graham cracker crust and poured the lightened up cheesecake mixture atop.

I was expecting to be a bit underwhelmed by the dessert when I threw in a block of low-fat cream cheese, Greek yogurt and very little sugar. But to my surprise and delight it was awesome. Smooth, rich-tasting and lightly sweet, Joey and I both ate a piece without feeling stuffed afterward. Things only got better when I calculated the nutrition information for the bars and found that when you make it into 12 servings, each serving only has around 190 calories. Not an ultra low-calorie dessert, but hardly a gut-busting indulgence, either.

Healthier Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Recipe slightly adapted from Cooking Light magazine
For Crust:
*1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
*2 tablespoons sugar
*3 tablespoons butter, melted

For Filling:
*8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
*1/2 cup sugar
*3 large eggs
*1 tsp. vanilla extract
*1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
*1/3 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
*1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

*Preheat oven to 300°F. In a small bowl, combine the crust ingredients until well combined. Press the crust mixture evenly into an 8×8-inch square baking pan. Set aside.
*In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until just combined. Add in the vanilla, pumpkin, Greek yogurt and cinnamon and beat until smooth and incorporated.
*Pour filling mixture into prepared crust pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the cheesecake center barely moves when pan is touched. Cool completely on a wire rack. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 8 hours. Makes 12 servings

Approximate Calories per serving: 190

Happy Baking!



Rachael Ray in Mexico

November 15, 2011
Ever since I returned from Mexico while traveling there for “Hey, Can You Cook?! All-Stars” I’ve been dying to share photos from my trip. Alas, I have had to keep my mouth shut and my photos to myself for quite a while in order to keep where and what we were filming a surprise for everyone watching at home. 
Now that our Mexican adventure episode has aired, I’m happy to share a little glimpse into a week that I will never forget. Truth be told, we spent more time cooking, filming and flying around the country of Mexico than we did lounging poolside and perfecting our tan. But when we did crash at the end of the day, we had more than adequate accommodations for our stay.  
The second half of our trip, while we were in San Miguel de Allende, was spent at the Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, without a doubt the most beautiful hotel I have ever stayed. The staff was kind, courteous and accommodating to the extreme. They even tracked down peanut butter for me when I was desperate for some on the sixth day of our trip. I could tell you more about the hotel, but I think the pictures (from my iPhone) do it more justice and words ever could.
{I wanted to take these mirrors back with me so badly!}
{I took a bath every single night we were there, and this tub is the reason why.}
{The view from the rooftop bar and restaurant at sunset.}
{Room service was extremely affordable. I enjoyed fresh carrot juice and a bowl of steel cut oats with apple compote. And coffee, of course!}
{My fellow contestants helped make my birthday away from home feel special by having the restaurant staff put this little chocolate mousse dessert together.}
{We ventured into downtown San Miguel one afternoon and stopped at an adorable pastry shop and restaurant.}
{Holy YUM}
{Okay, so we did manage to spend one afternoon out by the pool. The sun and water felt great, especially since I knew it was getting cold back home!}

Time to fess up: Have you ever been to Mexico? If so, where did you go and what did you think? 
I’ve been a couple times before, mainly to the Cancun area, and will admit that I wasn’t a huge fan. But after traveling to San Miguel, my feelings about Mexico have most certainly changed!

You Should Roast a Chicken

November 14, 2011

Quite often when Joey and I don’t feel like cooking (well, when I don’t feel like cooking), we pick up a rotisserie chicken at the store and I made a bunch of steamed and roasted veggies for me to eat and for him to pair with his chicken. As someone who knows how easy it is to roast a chicken, buying a rotisserie chicken always kills me inside because I know I could do it better.

Well this past weekend, I finally got my butt to the store and picked up ingredients for a roasted chicken meal. You know the crazy part? I picked up a whole organic roasted chicken, a pound of green beans, two large russet potatoes and an onion for just NINE dollars. Crazy, right? Anyone who says you can’t eat well on very little money, or who says that fast food is cheaper than real food, hasn’t spent much time at the grocery store or in the kitchen.

Food prices aside, this meal was incredibly easy to make and would be impressive enough to serve for company, or in our case, on a casual Friday night in. Sure, you need a bit of time, but 90% of the time is hands-off. We actually got a workout in while our chicken was roasting, that’s how easy it is.

One word to the wise: unless you feel like cleaning your chicken or making something with the giblets, I would recommend buying a chicken that says it is ‘without neck and giblets’ for the easiest (and much less gross) chicken roasting experience

Easy Roasted Chicken
*2 medium russet potatoes chopped into large bite-sized pieces
*1 tablespoon olive oil 
*1 medium-sized whole chicken without neck or giblets
*1/4 cup mayonnaise
*Salt and black pepper
*2 cloves garlic, minced
*1/2 medium onion, sliced
*Additional salt and ground black pepper

*Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Set aside.
*Place potatoes on the baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper. Set aside.
*Rinse chicken thoroughly making sure to clean the inside cavity. Dry with paper towels and discard paper towels. Place chicken atop some of the potatoes. Rub chicken with mayonnaise. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper to taste. Top chicken with the minced garlic.
*Place chicken in the oven and bake for 65 to 75 minutes, adding the onions halfway through cooking. Chicken’s juices should run clear when pierced with a fork, potatoes should be crispy brown and the skin of the chicken should be dark golden brown.

Happy Cooking!



Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins

November 10, 2011
First of all, thank you SO much for your kind responses to my infinity scarf post! I am trilled that so many of your are interested in making one yourself. If I could share the pattern I used, I would. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow a pattern as much as I just experimented until I found something that worked. I’m thinking of putting together a video tutorial in the upcoming weeks for any of you who would like to give it a try at home!
Although gluten-free baking and cooking scares me, I’m determined to do more of it. Partly because I know a lot of Espresso and Cream readers are going or have gone gluten-free and in another part because my cousin is starting a quinoa business! The company is called Feed Adam and will be launched in the upcoming months.
Since I’ll be doing a big of recipe development for the company, I’ve been cooking with their products (quinoa flour, quinoa pasta, and regular quinoa), and have been super pleased with the results. I’ve been swapping quinoa flour for regular flour in a lot of recipes and been using the quinoa pasta in place of whole wheat pasta in our favorite dishes.
A few weeks back I saw an already gluten-free recipe from Lisa over at With Style & Grace. She is an amazing blogger with style by the buckets and amazing gluten-free recipes. She posted a recipe for gluten-free pumpkin pistachio bread a while back and I couldn’t wait to try it. I adapted the recipe slightly, adding a bit more spice and turning them into muffins instead of a quick bread loaf.
If you are looking for a sweeter than sweet muffin that is more along the cupcake line, these are not your baked good. But, if you are looking for a pleasantly sweet and satisfyingly spice-filled muffin that would go well on a breakfast buffet or holiday dinner table, then these may be just the fit.
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted just slightly from With Style & Grace
*1 1/2 cups quinoa flour (or other gluten-free flour of choice)
*1 teaspoon baking soda

*1/2 teaspoon baking powder
*2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
*1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1 cup canned pumpkin puree
*1/2 cup olive oil
*1 cup sugar
*2 large eggs
*1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease muffin cups. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt.
*In a large bowl beat together pumpkin, olive oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla.
*Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until muffins are lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
*Cool on a wire rack. Store leftovers in a zip top bag or container with a lid.

Happy Baking!