Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Patriotic Pillows...just in time for the 4th

Texas native, Christin Morgan, represents for all states in her line of super fun, hand-stitched felt pillows.  Grab yours now in time for the 4th: http://www.etsy.com/shop/lovecalifornia

I recently caught up with the California transplant who has plans for greenness and goodness: recycled felt and non-profit donations are on the way...

Monday, June 21, 2010

DESSERT: Frosty the Cupcake-man

This vanilla frosting is a great basic, and you can use it on cake, cupcakes, or on your french toast...yum.  Refer to my notes on butter substitutes before you begin, and be sure to use a mixer.

Serving Size: Frosts 1-2 dozen (double the ingredients if you want thick frosting) cupcakes or a small cake

  • 1/2 cup low-far butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2-4 cups ground brown sugar or stevia (substitute for confectioners sugar, but you must be sure to grind the sugar well)
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • Beat the butter until it is fluffy
  • Add in the sugar and continue to beat the butter and sugar together
  • Add in the milk, extract, and salt
  • Continue to beat until your mixture is light and fluffy
  • You're done - enjoy!

DESSERT: Pistachio (Rose) Cupcakes to Write Home About

The last flavor people think of when they bake cupcakes is pistachio, but the truth is, this lovely green cupcake should be higher on the list of cupcake possibilities.  A few notes before you begin: first, stevia may be used, but only if you can deal with the aftertaste.  I recommend that you do half or three-quarters agave and 1/4 or 1/2 stevia.  Second, I highly recommend a mixer for this recipe, it's very thick.  Third, you can replace butter with one of three items: 1) apple sauce: 1:1 ratio, 2) low-fat butter: try the french brand they sell at trader joes (it comes in a little white container), 3) substitute half the butter with low-fat vanilla yogurt - do not do a 1:1 substitute. Fourth, you do not have to integrate the rose - some people just can't get down with this flavor - it's ok!

Finally, be sure to frost these cupcakes!

Serving Size: 12 (1 Dozen Cupcakes)

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup pistachios, very finely ground
  • 1 ½ tsps baking powder 
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup skim milk (or soy milk)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 4 tsps low-fat butter (see substitution notes above)
  • ½ cup agave (see substitution notes above)
  • 1 tsp rose essence (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 350ยบ
  • Insert cupcake liners (try foil ones instead of paper) in muffin pan or prepare liners on a flat tray (you don't need the muffin pan but do note that if you use the liners by themselves on a tray, your cupcakes will be a bit wider)
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, pistachios, baking powder and salt; set aside. 
  • Stir extracts into the milk; set aside.
  • Beat the egg whites until fluffy
  • In a large bowl, beat the butter and agave (or stevia) until it is light and fluffy
  • On low speed, gradually add flour mixture. 
  • Slowly pour in milk-extract combination, and beat until mixed - avoid over-beating
  • Fold in the beaten egg whites
  • Evenly spoon batter into prepared muffin pan or liners. 
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Free Nobu? I'm in!

Nobu is one of my favorite sushi joints ever, and the chance to win a free trip to Nobu NYC compliments of AT&T is even better...enter the contest here: http://www.ypmobilewin.com/?or=tasb

Saturday, June 5, 2010

DESSERT: Easy Agave-Sweetened Dark Chocolate Buttermilk Mousse

Servings: 5-7

  • 1 Ghirardelli 100% Cacao Unsweetened Baking Bar (or 4 oz of 72% Cacao or greater dark chocolate)
  • 4 tbsp agave nectar
  • 2-3 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk (try Trader Joe's lowfat buttermilk)
  • Heat buttermilk in a medium sized saucepan for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently (don't worry if the milk seperates)
  • Beat the three eggs until slightly frothy
  • Add agave to the egg mix
  • Add the egg mixture to the buttermilk and stir constantly for at least 4-5 minutes; keep the mixture over low-medium heat
  • Once the mixture thickens, remove from heat and allow to cool for 4-5 minutes
  • Stir in chocolate and sugar (you can omit the sugar and just up the agave)
    • NOTE: because the recipe uses buttermilk instead of cream, the mixture may look somewhat lumpy - utilize a hand blender to quickly stir and create a more homogeneous mixture
  • Pour mixture into a mixing bowl (stainless steel is best) 
  • Add in vanilla extract
  • Set mixture aside to cool for 3-5 minutes
  • Allow mixture to set in the fridge for at least three to four hours
  • Serve plain or with a garnish (try a dollop of whipped cream, mint, and berries)