Kitchen Adventures, Olympic Edition: Pineapple Upside-down Cake

What better way is there to celebrate the Olympics than by singing to Daft Punk eating the Olympic rings? None.  We adapted a classic pineapple upside-down cake to fit into the Olympic spirit, rainbow rings and all.  Make your own before the games end on February 23, and let me know how it goes!

Olympic Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (adapted from good old Betty Crocker)

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons margarine or butter
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar (slightly less for Olympic version)
  • Red, green, and blue food coloring
  • 1 can sliced pineapple, drained (will only use 5 rings for Olympic version) – save the juice, too!
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  1. Pat dry 5 pineapple rings – they don’t have to be too dry, just enough so that the color won’t run. In 4 separate containers, mix one drop of food color with a splash of pineapple juice, then lay one ring of pineapple in each color (red, blue, green, and one with a tiny bit of each to make black).  Yellow is just the plain pineapple ring.  Don’t flip the rings (since we only want the color on the top), but do move them around the container a bit to get all the dye onto them.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat butter in a 10-inch cake pan.
  3. While the butter is melting, combine flour through egg in a mixer, and beat at low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl occasionally. Then beat at high speed for 3 minutes, scraping bowl as you go.
  4. Arrange pineapple slices color-side-down in the butter, then sprinkle brown sugar in a thin layer over the remaining butter, so there’s either a pineapple or brown sugar coating the entire base of the pan.
  5. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove, and immediately invert over a plate, keeping the pan on top for a few minutes.  Remove and reveal your pineapples, then serve warm.

Enjoy with a mug of hot cocoa while cheering on your favorite Olympians.

Kitchen Adventure: Maple roasted pumpkin seeds

The best part of making this delicious recipe for Thanksgiving was seeing how incredibly easy it is to toast your own pumpkin seeds.  Where has this idea been my whole life??  They’re great for:

  • putting on top of stir-frys
  • adding to salads
  • snacking (dangerous, but good)
  • putting on top of a pumpkin pie

With one bag of pumpkin seeds, you can make at least 3 servings of this – plenty of time to try all the combinations you can dream of!

pumpkin seeds

Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • 3/4 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, coating the seeds with oil and syrup.  Pour into a foil-lined pan (rimmed cookie sheets work best, but I just used a baking dish).
  3. Cook until toasted – about 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool before enjoying on top of anything and everything you can imagine.

Kitchen Adventure: Easy cheesy frittata

For those nights when you can’t get enough cheese… when you want to use as few pans as possible… when you want leftovers you can eat for a week – this meal is for those nights!

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Easy Cheesy Frittata 

  • 1 large head of broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 whole eggs, beat
  • 8 egg whites
  • 2 cups cheese (I used a 4 cheese “Mediterranean” blend of sharp Provolone, feta, Kasseri, and Romano)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved, or two large tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Caramelize the onions in a small frying pan, cooking over medium heat with olive oil until golden.  Remove from pan and set aside in large bowl.
  3. Sauté the broccoli in a pan with water until it’s lightly steamed.  Add chopped garlic and cook until easily cut with a fork.  Add to the bowl with onions.
  4. Beat the eggs and cheese together, add to the bowl with cooked veggies and chopped tomatoes.  Mix together and transfer to large baking dish.
  5. Cook for 25-30 mins or until cheese is melted and eggs are set.  Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between!

Kitchen Adventures: Simple southern greens with bacon

There are two things you might not know about me if you haven’t seen me cook:

  1. I am terrible at following directions.  If I have even an inkling something should be done a different way (this would be better minced! Surely they meant that amount of butter was optional! I love sugar – ADD MORE!) I jump in and do it that way.
  2. I have no patience.  None.  Zip. Nada.  So when things need to be done slowly, I tend to crank up the heat just to get it finished with sooner.

I tried to quell both those urges with my recent cooking adventure, and had a 50% success rate.  Even though I didn’t follow the directions, I did cook this much longer than I pretty much ever cook anything, and my patience definitely paid off.  This is one of the most decadent and delicious dishes I’ve ever made and it will definitely become a staple in my cookbook.  I was inspired by this recipe.

southern greens

Southern (Collard) Greens with Bacon

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium to large onion, chopped
  • 1 bag southern greens from TJ’s
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper (optional)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  1. Heat oil in a large pot.  Cut up the bacon by stacking the slices and then cutting across the grain into about 10 pieces (or whatever – this isn’t rocket science.  Just make it smaller).  Add bacon to the pot and cook about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and onion to the bacon and cook 5 minutes, until onions are mostly cooked and bacon is crispy.
  3. Add greens to the pot and cook for about 3 minutes, until wilted/lightly fried.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and stir.  Cook covered for 45 minutes or until greens are done – they might look finished while they’re still crunchy, so go ahead and try them if you’re not sure.  It’s quite hard to overcook this, so don’t worry if your other dishes or your greens need more time beyond the first 45 minutes.
Greens before and after cooking

Greens before and after cooking

And enjoy!  I ate mine with fresh bread and a poached egg – perfection!  Good for breakfast, dinner, guests, or leftovers – they’re just plain good!

Kitchen Adventures: Broccoli, egg white, and basil frittata

Quiche and I have a solid history – I used to make them for and with my grandma, I made them a ton when I moved to Boston, I buy them for lunch sometimes at this delicious place downtown.  But what do you do when you really don’t need that crust anymore, and would rather save the calories and room in your stomach for something else?

Cue the frittata.

I came up with this recipe, which is the kind of frittata that falls somewhere between “crustless quiche” and “baked eggs”, because I wanted something light for dinner that could also serve as breakfast or lunch, and I wanted it to taste like summer – as fresh as possible.  I ate this for almost a whole week and never got tired of it – so good!

Frittata

Broccoli, Egg White, and Basil Frittata

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups broccoli, chopped and steamed
  • 1 cup onion, chopped and cooked
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 carton egg whites
  • 1 bag of shredded, low-fat Italian cheese mix (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 6 tbsp basil (about 10 leaves, chopped)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (F) while you steam the broccoli in bite-sized pieces and cook the onion with a little oil and the garlic in a frying pan.
  2. Whisk together the eggs, egg whites, cheese, and half-and-half in a large bowl.  When blended, add the rest of the ingredients, with the basil last so it doesn’t cook too much in advance.  Pour the entire mixture into two glass pie plates.
  3. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until eggs are set.  Eat hot, and then refrigerate when cool, including freezing some for later!

This recipe and its simple ingredients make two whole pies worth of delicious frittata, for 4 PointsPlus for 1/8 of the total serving.  Since I used similarly sized pie plates, this means I could eat 1/4 of a pie (2 pieces) for less than the value of two pieces of toast with peanut butter.  So good, so simple, so healthy!

What’s your go-to breakfast, for now and later?

Night (and plate) of stars

Long, long ago, in a living room far, far away, I lost miserably on my Oscar ballot.  But I like to think I still won the night with my Oscar-themed menu, with one item from each Best Picture nominated film.  Check below the photos for the specifics on each recipe.

  • Hershey kisses for Amour 
  • 70s-tastic and undercover-disguise ready peanut butter chocolate mustaches for Argo, with some “escape to Canada” Canadian Dry on the side
  • Life of (Pumpkin) Pi(e) dip
  • Southern corn muffins and red pepper jam from Beasts of the Southern Wild (our store didn’t have the ingredients to make hushpuppies!)
  • Southern Comfort in honor of Lincoln (with cranberry and a splash of gingerale = best drink ever)
  • Pigs in a blanket, perfect for eating in front of a football game a la Silver Linings Playbook (note: I never even got to eat one of these despite delivering them in two waves = major party pleaser!)
  • … served with smokey BBQ sauce for Django Unchained
  • A loaf of French bread and baked brie, courtesy of Valjean in Les Mis
  • (Coke) Zero Dark Thirty

Overall, it was a great bash and it taught me that you can never put out the red carpet too early, there’s no such thing as too many little hot dogs… and we need a bigger living room.

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Argo mustaches – made with simple chocolate molds from Michael’s – super fun and a good team activity to try to get everything perfect before it sets!

Pumpkin Pie Dip – based off of this recipe, and I made the pumpkin pie seasoning from scratch!

Corn Muffins - made from store mix, with NH-made red pepper jam (I loooove this stuff)

Pigs in a blanket in the classic style – just get some mini hot dogs, subdivide some Pillsbury crescent roll dough, and cook until the dough is lightly browned.  One thing of dough and one of hot dogs is enough to make two batches to feed a hungry bunch (minus me, since they were all gone by the time I sat down!)

Baked Brie inspired by Les Mis based on my crowd-pleasing recipe from last year.

Special thanks to my sous chef Sara, my partner in crime, Katie, my coworkers who helped me come up with menu items, and everyone else who came to celebrate and talk over Seth Macfarlane’s offensive commentary with us!

The hosts of the evening, on our red carpet

The hosts of the evening, on our red carpet (which we MIGHT have left out for an extra week or so…)

Kitchen Adventures: Quinoa and Brussels Sprouts

This simple recipe is great for the end of a busy week and can accommodate almost any ingredients you have around.  Sub couscous for quinoa, add in other veggies, or include other proteins if you have them handy.

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Quinoa and Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 lb shredded Brussels sprouts (I got them precut from Trader Joe’s – one bag will do it!)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped into thin strips
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice – about one lemon worth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • goat cheese (optional, for topping)
  1. Cook the quinoa – one cup of quinoa to 2-3 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 15-20 minutes for liquid is absorbed.  Let rest for 3-5 minutes before serving.
  2. Add the oil, onion, Brussels sprouts, salt/pepper, and half the lemon juice to a frying pan over medium heat.  Stir frequently – when the sprouts get bright green, add more lemon juice and bell pepper.  Stir for about 7-10 minutes total, until sprouts are cooked but still crunchy.
  3. Add quinoa to the pan of veggies and mix well.  Serve hot or cold.  (I topped mine with goat cheese crumbles – SO GOOD!)

This made about four salad-sized servings – can’t wait to eat it for lunch later this week.

Enjoy!

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