Monday, June 28, 2010

Homemade White Cake with Penuche Frosting

My parents had a barbecue at their house for my Grandma's birthday and Father's Day. My mom made this great white cake (I put the pecans on!) with a caramel-y penuche (find out what penuche is here) frosting. It was to-die-for!! The cake was so moist and had the perfect soft texture, almost like angel food cake, but a little more dense. Everyone loved the cake, and my mom had to take it inside away from everyone (after they got a piece) to save some for my grandma to take home! :)

How cute is my grandma with her cake?!

My parents live pretty high up, so my mom used this Joy of Cooking High Altitude White Cake recipe. If you don't live above 5,000 feet, try this recipe for White Cake here. I think the cake was so good because of this special high altitude recipe though. Here it is!

High Altitude White Cake

4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cup sugar, divided
2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cube softened butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup plus 3 Tbsp milk, divided
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract, if desired (I'd highly recommend this! It made such a difference!)

Preheat oven to 375º. Grease and flour two 8" round pans and line with wax or parchment paper.
Beat egg whites together until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, beating on high. Beat until peaks are stiff, but not dry. Set aside.
In a bowl, sift together cake flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Put butter in a large bowl.
Sift flour mixture over butter and add 3/4 cup milk, vanilla and almond extract, if desired. Beat on high for two minutes. Add egg whites to butter mixture along with 3 Tbsp milk.
Beat for about one minute on medium-low speed. Divide batter between two pans and spread evenly. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Let cool in pans on racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and let finish cooling on wire racks. Remove paper and frost as desired.

Penuche Frosting

1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 3/4-2 cups powdered sugar

Boil butter and brown sugar together for two minutes. Stir in milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Cool to lukewarm. Stir in powdered sugar (starting with 1 3/4 cups), adding up to 2 cups if needed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rating: Asian Star Restaurant

For Lindsey's birthday, we went out to dinner with her family at Asian Star restaurant in Midvale, Utah. Lindsey has passed this restaurant several times (it's on Union Park Avenue) and it has been on her mental list of restaurants to try for a while now. The outside is really modern looking; almost the entire front side of the building is glass.

The inside is modern as well, and there are two levels of dining tables. We were seated on the second floor, right next to the window (window light=great pictures of food!).

What we like about eating out with people is that we get to see (and try) more dishes! Asian Star is family-style dishes, so we ordered a few to share. We started out with chicken lettuce wraps, which were prepared by the server on a cart next to our table.
[This pictures is from their website—we forgot to take a picture of the lettuce wraps!]
 The lettuce wraps were good. A little bland without the sauce (I believe it was hoisin sauce), but really tasty with the sauce. But unlike P.F. Chang's, you only get one lettuce wrap that they actually make for you.

We ordered a plate of chicken fried rice to go with our meat dishes. It was typical fried rice. Too much rice and not enough chicken and veggies. But still good.

The name of this dish caught our attention: honey nectar pork. We had to get it. It was really sweet, deep fried and drenched in honey and nectar (I'm not sure if it was agave nectar or some kind of fruity stuff). You wouldn't want to eat a whole plate of this stuff (heart attack and sugar coma in the same dish), but a few bites were good. 

Lindsey's sisters (and Stew) love orange chicken. So we had to order the mandarin chicken. We were surprised when it came out; it was neon orange! It had a little spice with the orange flavor. Another deep fried dish (by the way, they don't mention when a dish is fried on the menu, which is negative points in Lindsey's book).
Yet another deep fried dish (not saying that this was bad—it was a good-quality deep fried food, we just try to avoid fried foods). Walnut shrimp. This was tasty shrimp! Perfect crunch, and a great sweet flavor! They get major points on presentation of this dish—look at the dyed flower they created from a daikon radish!! Just don't touch it—it doesn't come off fingers!

The last and only non-fried dish. The kung pao triple treat (I'm not sure if this is a typo on the menu and they meant to call it the "triple threat," personally I think that makes more sense) includes chicken, beef, and shrimp. Not too spicy, I'd maybe request a little more heat next time. But there was enough heat to make your lips tingle. But there were too many peanuts piled on top.

And for Lindsey's birthday, they sang "Happy Birtday to You" and brought a piece of cheesecake. Not-so-great cheesecake. Not a great way to end the meal.

So here's how we rated Asian Star:

We really loved the decor and atmosphere of this restaurant. The only thing missing was more authentic music. The service was good, but the waitress was a little pushy—telling us we had to have an entree for each meat (beef, chicken, shrimp and pork). There were servers standing around chatting close to our table, but we didn't go at a busy time. The prices are pretty good for how nice of a restaurant it is, except maybe the price of the lettuce wraps, which were a little expensive. The presentation was awesome, ten out of ten! The food quality was excellent, besides the fact that we don't love deep fried food. The food was overall a little mellow in flavor—more bland than you'd expect for Chinese dishes. This has an upside though—leaving without heartburn! We couldn't help but to compare Asian Star to P.F. Chang's...and if taste is the only factor, we'd go to P.F. Chang's. Plus they have way better desserts (cough cough...great wall of chocolate)!

But it's worth a trip, so if you're in the area, go try it out!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Crunchy Asian Salad

The few times I've had a salad like this (with ramen noodles, coleslaw and Asian dressing) I've loved it, but they always seem so unhealthy! Well folks, here's a healthy version with less calories, fat, sugar, and more of the good stuff (vitamins, fiber, etc)! It's the featured recipe for the month of June in a free "Eat Better America" calendar I got in the mail. The picture looked so tempting and I knew I had to try it! I love salads with texture from a lot of different ingredients—this one hits the spot! And the dressing is SO good! This salad is way better than any other ramen noodle salad I've had! And you can feel good eating it!

1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup rice vinegar (you can substitute apple cider vinegar if you don't have this)
3 Tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1 package (3 oz) ramen noodle soup mix (any flavor)
1 bag (16 oz) coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
8 medium green onions (1/2 cup), sliced (I only had 3 but more would be better)
1/2 cup (2 oz) sliced almonds (or peanuts, honey roasted peanuts, or cashews)
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
2 (11 oz) cans of mandarin oranges (drained), or two peeled and chopped naval oranges
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh baby spinach leaves
Shredded chicken (optional—I used a 13 oz can of chicken)

In a small bowl, beat dressing ingredients with a wire whisk or fork until sugar is dissolved and mixture is well blended.
Break up ramen noodles in bag before opening. Discard seasoning packet from soup package. In a large bowl, combine noodles, dressing, and all remaining salad ingredients except oranges and spinach; toss to mix well. Stir in oranges and spinach.
Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 8 hours (I had some that was older than that and it was still delicious, but the noodles are soft).

By the way, this makes a huge salad (15 servings!), especially if you're only feeding two people! But I've loved having it for dinner, then lunch, then lunch again to finish it off! ;)

Another by the way: without chicken, there's only 110 calories in a 2/3-cup serving! But who can only eat 2/3 cup?!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tres Leches Cake

This is my new favorite cake! I'm so glad I requested that my mom make THIS cake for my birthday! It was so delicious and moist! I love that it's not heavy at all (although, that may be a bad thing—I ate more). You've got to make it! The perfect summer dessert!!

Tres Leches Cake

White or yellow cake mix and ingredients called for on box*
1 (14-oz) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 (12-oz) can fat free evaporated milk
1/4–1/2 cup half and half (or heavy cream—fat free half and half doesn't work)
Whipped cream for serving (homemade was delicious!)
Berries for serving (my sister used a chopper to chop strawberries really tiny—I think it's so pretty!)

Prepare white or yellow cake mix as directed on package, *or use buttermilk in place of water for a denser cake (my mom did this and it was goooood! Does that make it "Quatro Leches Cake"??). Let stand five minutes.
In a large bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and half and half.
Poke top of cake every 1/2 inch with a fork, wiping fork occasionally to reduce sticking.
Carefully pour milks evenly over the top of the cake (pour slowly if it runs to the corners—you might have to use a spoon or spatula to move the liquid to the center). Cover and refrigerate at least one hour or until mixture is absorbed into cake. Overnight is best (the cake was better the second day!).
Serve with whipped cream and berries.

So delicious! I know you'll love it!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Homemade Salsa

I was so excited to use the new food processor Stew got me for my birthday, and the first thing I thought to make was homemade salsa! So I quickly found a recipe (here) and we were really pleased with how it turned out! Here it is!

Homemade Salsa

2 jalepeño peppers, seeded
1/2 sweet yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 small clove of garlic (or more to taste)
2 vine-ripened tomatoes
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 14.5-oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained (reserve some juice)
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilanto
Juice of one lime

In the bowl of a food processor (or blender), combine the jalepeños and garlic. Process until finely chopped (or if you want to make a finer salsa you can just combine everything at once).
Add all other ingredients to the food processor. Pulse in very brief pulses until the vegetables have reached the size you desire. Add reserved juice from fire-roasted tomatoes if needed to achieve desired consistency.
*Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate at least two hours before serving to allow flavors to blend.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Chicken Fajitas

I've never made chicken fajitas without fajita seasoning, but after making these (thanks, Prudence Pennywise), I don't think I'll ever use fajita seasoning again! These were really simple and amazing! Plus, they're not overloaded with sodium because there is no fajita seasoning in them (but they're still just as flavorful, if not more!).

I'm pretty sure you could simplify the recipe and make the mojo de ajo with the chicken (instead of before), but I haven't tried it yet. If you try it, just make sure the garlic doesn't burn. Here's the original recipe:

Chicken Fajitas

For Mojo de Ajo:
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp minced garlic (4 to 6 cloves)
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice (juice of 2 limes)
1 tsp red-pepper flakes (this wasn't really that spicy)
1/2 tsp coarse salt (I just used sea salt)

For the Fajitas:
1/2 large white onion, cut into slices
1 large green bell pepper, cut into slices
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds chicken, sliced 1/2 inch thick (the original recipe calls for breasts and thighs, but I just used chicken tenders)
Flour tortillas, warmed (or just our homemade tortillas!)
Avocado or guacamole, for serving
Pico de gallo or salsa, for serving
Sour cream, for serving
Shredded cheddar cheese, for serving

Make the mojo de ajo: Cook oil and garlic together in the large saucepan you'll use for the chicken (later), over low heat until garlic is soft and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat, pour into a small bowl and stir in lime juice, red pepper flakes and salt.
Make the fajitas: In the same skillet used for the mojo de ajo, heat pan (should be oily still, if it's not, add a little more oil) over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper, and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion and pepper have softened (about five minutes). Add chicken and one teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is browned and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the mojo de ajo and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper (if needed). Serve immediately with warmed tortillas and toppings.

We made homemade salsa (in our new food processor) the same night and it was gooooooood! The recipe will be up soon so stay tuned! Don't forget to make homemade tortillas, with these too—it would make them over-the-top good!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Surprise Birthday Gift!

So at 6:00 this morning, I realized Stew hadn't come back to bed. I called his name and he came in, fully dressed. He told me he had a surprise for my birthday. Well, I couldn't go back to sleep now! So I got out of bed and found a large box on our table. I unwrapped it, and lo and behold:


A 12-cup KitchenAid Food Processor! He totally surprised me with this! Looks like my birthday is off to a great start! Now what can I make in it for breakfast?!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

German Pancakes

I would guess most people have eaten German pancakes, whether they be called "puffy pancakes," "dutch babies," "surprise pancakes" or "oven pancakes." The recipe is SUPER easy and almost the same everywhere. The toppings vary, though. My mom sprinkles sugar AND syrup on them. I remember my friend, Whitney, tops hers with cinnamon and sugar before baking. Fruit is a popular topping as well. Personally, we like ours with cinnamon and sugar, AND syrup (not totally soaked though).

German Pancakes

6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 425º. Melt 3–6 (I always use as little as possible) tablespoons of butter (not oil spreads, make sure you use REAL butter) in a 9x13 pan in the oven as it preheats.
Mix all ingredients together well (although, I've found that a few lump don't hurt!). Pour pancake batter into pan with melted butter. Bake for 20–25 minutes until golden brown and puffy. Don't peek in the oven for at least 20 minutes or it won't puff!

*I usually half or 2/3 this recipe when I'm making it for just us two. Use a 9x9" pan or a pie pan and cook for less time, 15–20 minutes.

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

High Five Noodles

Also known as "Chicken Bacon Spinach Dip Pasta with Tomatoes." We were trying to come up with a name for the dish (since it was my concoction) during dinner. Stew gave me a high five after finishing two big portions and said it should be called "High Five Noodles." After some deliberation, I finally gave in because I love him so much (and it's a catchy name)!

I had leftover spinach dip and thought it would be good in pasta, because it would be kind of like hot spinach artichoke dip or pasta. I scoured the internet for "spinach dip pasta" and found a recipe to start from (here). It turned out so delicious and I'm glad I have a way to use up leftover spinach dip! I can feel a ranch dip pasta in the works too. :) This pasta is good enough that I'd make (or buy) spinach dip just for this if I didn't have leftovers! The Worcestershire give some oomph and is a must, and don't leave out the tomatoes or bacon; the tomatoes add some nice tang and the bacon some great texture and salt.

Here's the recipe for four servings, or a 9x9" pan

Penne or rigatoni pasta, half of a 14.5 oz box
6 chicken tenders
1 1/2 cups of spinach dip (honestly, I didn't measure, but I think it was about that much)
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, divided (or more if you desire)
Garlic salt, a few shakes
1 tsp dried basil
4 slices of bacon, chopped (I used Oscar Meyer fully-cooked bacon, it has less fat, but is still real bacon)
2 tomatoes, diced and seeds taken out

Cook pasta according to package directions, erring on the side of al dente.
While pasta is cooking, cook the chicken in a skillet with a sprinkling of garlic salt. Once cooked through, remove from pan and cut into bite-sized pieces. Combine spinach dip, Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, garlic salt and basil in a bowl and stir to combine. Cook bacon (unless you're using fully-cooked bacon).
In a 9x9" pan, combine cooked pasta, chicken and spinach dip mixture and stir to evenly distribute the dip. Add tomatoes and stir gently to incorporate.
Top with crumbled bacon (can be made up to this point and refrigerated if cooking later, that's what I did).
Cover with foil and bake at 325º for 30–40 minutes, or 350º for 20–30 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese on top and bake for 5–10 more minutes.
Serve topped with more cheese, if desired.

Seriously yummy—it will get you a high five! :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Creamsicle Cookies


Do you like creamsicles? This is the cookie version, and if I do say so myself, I'd WAY rather have one (or four) of these cookies than a creamsicle. I knew I had to try them the minute I saw the recipe on The Girl Who Ate Everything. The orange zest in the cookies gives it nice flecks of orange and a hint of orange flavor, and the white chocolate chips add some vanilla flavor. These cookies are the PERFECT texture too, being slightly crispy and chewy on the outside, and totally soft melt-in-your-mouth on the inside. They are so light and refreshing that it's hard to stop eating!


I've made these cookies twice in a week, once for the Campbell Memorial Day barbecue. Everyone loved them and I had several people ask for the recipe. These cookies are now up there with my all-time favorites: double chocolate coconut M&M cookies, browned butter chocolate chip cookies, and applesauce chocolate chip cookies. I'm not even a white chocolate lover, but these cookies aren't about the white chocolate—it's all about the creamsicle goodness!

See the creamsicle goodness??

So here is the recipe! You've got to make these ASAP!

Creamsicle Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla (this is my change, I added more vanilla—can never have enough!)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2+ Tbsp orange zest* (for me, one orange was 2 Tbsp, but the original recipe said two oranges. I tried it both ways and I think the more the better!)
1 1/2 – 2 cups white chocolate chips (I found that 2 cups was a little too much)

Preheat oven to 375º.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add flour, soda and salt until combined. Stir in orange zest and chocolate chips.
Drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets (I didn't use a silicone liner!). Do not flatten cookies; it will make them dry. Bake 8–11 minutes (11 was perfect for mine), until golden brown around the edges. Cookies will be plump. Do NOT overbake! Cool for several minutes on cookie sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

These cookies are one exception to the "better-when-hot" rule (that i just made up). These cookies are a lot better once they've cooled...and are probably really good from the fridge or freezer!!

* You could also use orange flavoring, but the flecks of orange are nice. I'm going to try some of both next time.

Also, the first time I made these I thought they'd look more "orange-tasting" if I added some food coloring, but it didn't really change the color too much and I think they look better without.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Cashew Chicken

I love a good stir fry-type dish, with rice and lots of veggies and a yummy sauce. They are so easy and fool-proof to make—you really can't screw them up! Here is yet another recipe, to add to our Bourbon Chicken, Chinese Lemon Chicken, Spicy Thai Chicken, Pineapple Jerk get the idea.
I got the recipe from a free "Eat Better America" calendar I got, with "Healthified" recipes. You can view the recipe here, or below.

Cashew Chicken

2 tsp canola oil
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tsp finely chopped (or grated) ginger root
1 cup chicken broth or boullion
1/8–1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (we like it slightly spicy)
3 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp sugar
green veggies (I was out of broccoli and peas so I used celery and green beans)
2 medium green onions, sliced (I didn't have this so I just used some yellow onion)
1/4 cup roasted salted cashew halves and pieces
rice for serving

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and ginger root (and regular onions if using), cook and stir 4–5 minutes or until chicken begins to brown. Add broccoli (and other veggies that will need to cook longer), 1/2 cup of the broth and the pepper flakes. Cover; cook over medium heat for two minutes, stirring once. Add peas (or other more tender veggies); cook 2–4 minutes longer, stirring once, until vegetables are crisp-tender.
In a small bowl, mix remaining 1/2 cup broth, soy sauce, vinegar, corn starch and sugar; stir into chicken mixture. Add green onions; cook, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened and bubbly.
Serve over rice and sprinkle with cashews.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

While we were in Vegas we ate at a lot of buffets (the 24-hour pass to eight buffets was cheaper than meals for 24 hours...don't judge us—we may be foodies, but we're also poor newlyweds! It sounded like a good idea at the time, but when that 24 hours was up we never wanted to see another buffet again!), one of them being Le Village Buffet in the Paris casino. All the buffets were standard and didn't really blow us out of the water, but the tomato basil soup at the Paris was AMAZING!
We were still talking about it weeks after our trip, and one day Stew suggested we make it for dinner. So I gathered a few recipes that looked good and just went for it, combining different aspects of each recipe. It was really light, delicious AND healthy! Hope you like it!

2 Tbsp butter (I think the butter could be reduced even more if you want)
1 onion, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, diced and seeds removed
1 (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
4 cups chicken broth
1 (12 oz) can low-fat evaporated milk
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup (small handful) fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
Italian seasoning, oregano, garlic salt, salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (if desired)

Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and celery and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, milk, basil and other spices. Bring to a low boil, then reduce to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Can eat chunky or blend until desired consistency.
Top with parmesan/mozzarella/monterey jack cheese and some chopped fresh basil if desired. We served it with a homemade french baguette (in Liz's Food Nanny cookbook!) and a green salad with balsamic vinegar.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

We Have a Winner!

Hope everyone had a good Memorial Day weekend! We sure did! We've got a delicious orange creamsicle cookie recipe coming up (and I just realized I forgot to take any pictures of them—oh no!)—everyone who ate them at the family barbecue LOVED them!

We have a winner of an autographed copy of Liz Edmunds' The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner cookbook! 

The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner: Easy Family Meals for Every Day of the Week
Besides having GREAT recipes, in this cookbook you'll find "The Nanny Plan" (which helps you plan meals for two weeks at a time using theme nights like Italian, comfort foods, etc), conversation starters and other great kitchen tips! It is our very favorite cook book and we're excited to give a copy to...


Comment number 37 (courtesy of,
Staci Meacham!
Congratulations Staci! You have three days to email us ( your address so we can send you your book!

And for all you who didn't win, go here to buy a copy of Liz Edmunds' book now! You will love it!