For AJ’s 26th Birthday I surprised him with behind home-bench tickets to DC United vs. AC Milan. (3-2 win!) For his birthday dinner I made Grilled Stuffed Poblano & Jalapeño peppers, Grilled Flank Steak & Red Onion Salad, Ciabatta Bread and a sumptuous, dark chocolate cake with a rich, fluffy coffee frosting sprinkled in slivers of dark chocolate and espresso beans; Devil’s Food Cake with a Whipped Espresso Buttercream.
Creamy and nutty, hummus is a versatile spread that can be dressed up like in this recipe with sweet roasted red peppers and roasted garlic or kept simple with just the basics; beans, olive oil and a few spices. You can use it as a dip for veggies and pita chips or slathered on a sandwich with avocado and crunchy veggies.
Sweet and nutty baked Acorn squash stuffed with a spicy Mexican blend of beans, corn and tomatoes, topped with cheese and crispy salted seeds.
- Squash, Acorn or Butternut
- One can of black beans (or ½ cup dried prepared)
- One can of diced tomatoes w/liquid
- 1 cup frozen corn
- Salt & Pepper
- Smoked Paprika
- Chili Powder
- 1 Smoked Chipotle pepper in Adobo sauce
- dash Cocoa Powder
- Reserved seeds
- Halve a butternut or acorn squash; scoop out seeds and reserve. Place cut side down in a baking dish and angle a bit against each other or the side of the dish so steam can escape.
- Bake at 300 degrees for 2 hours
- Combine all in saucepan, simmer for a minimum of 15 minutes. Like any good sauce, the longer it has to simmer the more the flavors will meld; I like to do at least an hour. Adjust the amount of seasonings to your tastes- it's hard to say how much of each I use, I just sprinkle it in until it smells right : ).
- After 2 hours, pull your squash out of the oven, flip over, spoon the filling into the squash, and grate cheddar, Pepper Jack or Manchego cheese over top.
- Stick back in the oven and broil until cheese is melted and browned.
- Wash in a sieve or small colander, pulling any fibers off with your fingers. Spread on a cookie sheet, spray with Olive Oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake/broil until browned and crispy, 5-10 minutes. (I usually do this while I brown the cheese on the squash as well) Sprinkle on squash when ready to serve (otherwise they will become soggy).
If you’ve never had the joy of owning a lab, let me explain their fondness for eating anything and everything they can get their grubby little paws on. My in-laws still proudly talk about their “grandpups” devouring an entire watermelon, rind and all. So it should come as no surprise that Sadie, our 9 year old black lab, ate what we could only assume was chicken scented styrofoam smuggled from the trash based on the “evidence”.
This isn’t our first rodeo with a sickly lab, so I went straight to the BRAT diet, cooking up chicken broth infused white rice. I knew something was very wrong when she didn’t want anything to do with it, so after a scary trip to the PetER, prayers, testing, an IV, prodding, 2 bottles of medication and 4 hours later… we were instructed to revert to Plan B; lowfat cottage cheese and rice + pills after fasting for 24 hrs. I asked the husband to stop at Wegman’s on his way home from work and pick up a large low-fat cottage cheese to remedy “the situation”. To his credit he doesn’t usually venture to the grocery on his own, and yes Wegman’s branding on their products looks similar…however, that doesn’t change the fact that Fat Free Sour Cream is NOT a valid substitute for cottage cheese. So now I have a sick, hungry dog and a quart of sour cream. Sadie groans at my feet.
I refuse to waste food, so when the husband accidentally gets me sour cream, I lovingly decide to create something with it. Luckily I also had 2 excuses to bake; a bakesale fundraiser for Rainbow Therapeutic Riding and my father-in-laws birthday visit.
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
*I borrowed ideas and parts of recipes like the yellow cake recipe from “Baking Illustrated” by the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen to create this.
4 egg whites1/2 cup sugar
Combine in the bowl of a standing mixer; set the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Whisk constantly until the mixture is opaque and warm to the touch and is 120 degrees on a thermometer (about 2 minutes). (Just note 120 degrees is may not be hot enough to kill any bacteria in the eggs). Beat the whites at medium-high speed until barely warm, glossy and stickey, about 7 minutes.
1 1/2 sticks butter (Earth Balance buttery sticks) softened but still cool and cut into 6 pieces
Reduce speed to medium and beat in butter one piece at a time.
2 tbls. lemon juice
Beat in the lemon juice, scrape down the sides and bottom, beat again about a minute.
Now I know it looks like a big curdled mess, but please please trust me and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside at room temp. for up to 6 hours. We make this frosting a lot and for the first 4 times I thought there is no way THAT cottage cheese curdled mess will whip into anything….but it always does : ).
When you are ready, set the bowl in your mixer and whip that stuff until it gets super fluffy and airy, about 5-10 minutes. I don’t think its possible to over whip it (some bakeries do it for up to 30 minutes!), so keep it going unt
il you achieve the consistency you want.
Put a dab of buttercream on the plate, put one layer of cake down, dollop a bunch of lucsious buttercream in the center and use a rubber spatula or frosting spreader to spread evenly and over the sides, add your other layer and repeat.
Last step (I promise it’s worth it, don’t stop now!)
On a cutting board, zest 2 more lemons and put about 2 tablespoons of organic cane sugar on top, use your knife to mush all together into a yummy, crusty lemon sugar.
Sprinkle this all over your cake….
See how it glistens?
And if it’s your father-in-laws birthday, stick a Romeo & Juliet right in the center, fire it up and TA-DA!
- ½ cup fat free sour cream
- ¼ cup butter (or Earth Balance buttery stick)
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup organic pure cane sugar
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 3 cups old fashioned oatmeal
- 1 cup flour (ground soft white wheat)
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- ⅓-1/2 cup raisins
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Cream Butter and Sugar in Bowl
- Add remaining ingredients and mix well
- Use a cookie scoop to place about a dozen cookies on stainless steel cookie sheet. Bake about 14 minutes or until the edges and bottom begin to crisp.
- Cool on sheet 2 minutes, remove to cooling rack using metal spatula. (Yummy warm and cooled : )