Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Banana-Lemon Pudding Cake

Last week, I was flipping through the March Rachel Ray magazine and came upon an article about slow cookers. I have always loved using my slow cooker for main course dishes, but have never made a dessert in one. Thanks to Rachel Ray, this Banana-Lemon Pudding Cake was a great opportunity to make my first crock pot dessert.

I had most of the ingredients already, but I did have to buy a few lemons (which I later used in a chicken recipe - coming soon)! I swapped banana flavored Yoplait yogurt for the plain yogurt and cut the sugar in half with Splenda.
Layering the bananas!
Mixing the batter...
Delicious result!
If I make this again, I would pay more attention to the directions (I didn't cook it long enough)! As a result, the bottom was not fully cooked through, but it still tasted great. The recipe says it serves 6...well for us that was more like 2! I originally thought I would make this for our next small group meeting, but it didn't make enough. I am not sure if you can double this recipe successfully or not (let us know if you try)!

The best part about this cake is the great lemon flavor. The side note in the magazine says that you can swap out other fruit for the bananas. Perhaps I will make this again with berries this summer.

Banana-Lemon Pudding Cake (From Rachel Ray Magazine, March 2010)
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • One 6-ounce container plain fat-free yogurt
  • Grated peel and juice of 1 large lemon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ripe bananas, sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  1. Grease the inside of a 3- to 4-quart slow cooker with butter. In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. In another large bowl, beat together the egg yolks, yogurt, lemon peel and lemon juice on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the sugar, flour and salt and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Working in 3 or 4 batches, gently fold in the beaten egg whites.

  2. Scatter three-quarters of the banana slices on the bottom of the slow cooker, then pour in the batter. Cover and cook on high until the cake is puffed, the top is set and the edges are browned, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Remove the slow cooker insert, still covered, and cool for about 20 minutes.

  3. Spoon the pudding into bowls and top with the whipped cream, if using, and the remaining banana slices.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Teriyaki Salmon and Sesame Broccoli

My husband and I love salmon and have found a thrifty way to make it one of our favorite meals of the week. I buy the family packs on sale and cut and freeze individual portions. If I make them on the small side I can get it down to about $2.00 a serving. Yes, it is a bit more than other proteins, but it is worth the splurge (and is super healthy)!

Of all of the salmon recipes I have tried, this version is my favorite. I also like baking salmon in a veggie packet (see my take on this on The Haphazard Chef) and also with maple syrup.

Sesame broccoli uses the same ingredients so it goes well with the fish. I originally got these recipes from a WeightWatcher's cookbook and adapted them for the ingredients I have in my kitchen.

Teriyaki Salmon

-2 skinless salmon fillets
-1/4 c. soy sauce
-1 tbs. grated ginger (I keep ginger in the freezer so it lasts longer)
-1 tbs. honey
-1 garlic clove, crushed
-1 tsp. sesame oil

Whisk together ingredients and pour into a zip-lock bag. Add the salmon and let marinate (up to 24 hours...I usually do this for as little as 5 minutes).

Remove the salmon from the marinade and transfer remaining marinade to a small bowl. Spray a grill pan with oil and set over medium heat. Add the salmon and cook 5 minutes a side, brushing with remaining marinade. Enjoy!

Sesame Broccoli

-1 head of fresh broccoli, cut into florets
-3 tbs. soy sauce
-2 tsp. sesame oil
-1 tbs. grated ginger
-1 tsp. brown sugar
-1 tbs. sesame seeds

Put broccoli in a saucepan over 1 inch of boiling water. Cover and steam until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl.

Whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Add dressing to broccoli and toss to coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Brown Sugar Meatloaf

One of Aaron's favorite meals is meat loaf. This weekend I had high hopes to try out some new exciting recipes like stromboli or stuffed peppers but when I asked him what he thought about those all he said was, "I really would love some meatloaf."

I figured I could at least try out a new meatloaf recipe. As I always do, I went to allrecipes.com and searched for "meatloaf." One of the top rated recipes, Rempel Family Meatloaf, is one of my favorites, but we were really in the mood for a traditional meatloaf. I saw that Brown Sugar Meatloaf was the only one that was rated above the Rempel Family Meatloaf so I decided I would give it a shot.
The meatloaf turned out great. I served it with mashed redskin potatoes and roasted asparagus. The bonus is we have a lot of leftovers for some great meatloaf sandwiches.

Brown Sugar Meatloaf (adapted from a recipe on allrecipes.com)

Ingredients* 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
* 1/2 cup ketchup
* 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
* 3/4 cup milk
* 2 eggs
* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
* 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1 small onion, chopped
* 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger * 3/4 cup finely crushed saltine cracker crumbs


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Mix together the ketchup and brown sugar and set aside.
3. In a mixing bowl, mix thoroughly all remaining ingredients and shape into a loaf. Put in a loaf pan or meatloaf pan and cover with the brown sugar and ketchup mixture.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes or until the meatloaf is 165 degrees.

I figured I can also introduce you to one of my favorite kitchen items. With meatloaf being one of my husband's favorite foods, when I saw this meatloaf pan at Williams Sonoma, I had to register for it. One of our friends from our old job at Calvin, Jennie, got it for us and we have certainly gotten a lot of use out of it. It has two layers. The top part has holes in it so as the meatloaf is cooking, the fat from the meat drains to the bottom. It makes a much nicer meatloaf than any other pan. If you are interested in your own meatloaf pan, you can get them here. The insert can also be removed and it can be used as a normal loaf pan.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Easy Veggie Pizza

I remember the first time I saw this appetizer at a party. Cold pizza? It sounded kind of different to me. But, after trying it, I realized why it is was such a hit. Pillsbury crust, ranch cream cheese topping, and colorful veggies make this appetizer a fresh alternative to the typical spread at a Superbowl party or BBQ.

Catherine and I made this pizza and with our husbands' help, it was gone within minutes! It was pretty easy to make, although we had to watch the crust from burning! The nice thing about this appetizer is that you can basically use whatever veggies you have and it is sure to turn out pretty and tasty.

Easy Veggie Pizza

- 1 can of Pillsbury crescent rolls (or seamless dough sheet)
- 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup of sour cream
- 1/2 packet of Ranch dressing seasoning
- 1 cup of assorted veggies (we used shredded carrots, tomatoes, and red pepper)

Heat oven to 375°F. Place dough on an ungreased cookie sheet. If using crescent rolls, press perforations together. Press in bottom and up sides to make crust.

Bake 13-15 minutes until brown. Cool for about 30 minutes.

In a small bowl mix cream cheese, sour cream, and ranch seasoning. Spread on crust. Top with veggies.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate before serving. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Beans & Rice: The Ultimate Frugal Meal

A few weeks ago, Catherine and I attended Dave Ramsey Live! and heard his money wise perspective on life. One if his favorite phrases is "Beans and Rice, Rice and Beans!" Yes, he can be a bit extreme, but he is right in that if one wants to save money, this is the meal for it!

Speaking of extreme, we heard our college and career pastor speak this last Sunday on "Desperate Control". In his message, he spoke about how he and his friends are eating rice and beans for the month of March as a way to learn how to depend on God (listen to his message here).

Although I am impressed with those who eat this meal everyday for financial or spiritual resons, my husband and I thought that maybe we could attempt this meal just a few times a month. First of all, it is easy, and with some extra spices and sides, we can make it unique each time. We figure that we could save some money too, as it costs less than a dollar a person with leftovers.

Rice and Beans

-1 cup of rice
-2 cups of water
-1 tbs. of butter
-1 can of black beans (or any other kind of bean)
-1 avocado (or other topping such as salsa)
-dash of spices (I used paprika and garlic powder)

Add rice, water and butter to a pot and heat on high. Once it starts to boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 14 minutes, never removing the cover.

Drain and rinse a can of beans. When the rice is cooked, add beans and spices. Add chopped avocado or side of choice (be creative)!

This post is linked to Frugal Fridays at Life As Mom.

Homemade Pizza

Homemade pizza is not only a good meal but also an entertaining activity. It is cheaper than ordering out and is always fun to make with a group of people. With a few options for toppings, each person can make their own creation however they like it!

Last weekend we got together with our husbands to do some house projects and made some pizzas for dinner. We used store bought frozen pizza dough, Trader Joe's pizza sauce, pepperoni and fresh veggies.

The pizzas turned out delicious! With a little bit of extra time and some good company, homemade pizza is cheap and fun to make. Paired with a side salad, this pizza beats anything delivered to your door.

Homemade Pizza

-Two frozen pizza dough balls

-One can of pizza sauce

-Two 8 oz. packages of mozzarella cheese

-Toppings of your choice

Thaw pizza dough according to package directions. Roll out on a floured surface and place on a pizza pan or stone. Spread with sauce, cheese, and toppings. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 450 F.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cashew Chicken

One night while looking at our pantry, I realized just how many cashews I had around our house, and I knew some of them needed to be eaten up. I remembered that Jenn said her mom used to make a cashew chicken and it was great. While I am more of an almond chicken person myself, I figured it would be worth a try.

After searching my favorite recipe website, Allrecipes.com, I came across a 4.5 star rated recipe for Cashew Chicken. I always like to look for inspiration from a recipe and then adapt it to my own taste. It turned out better than I had expected! It was much more delicious, cheaper, and healthier than any take-out chinese food I have ever had. I would recommend this recipe to anyone for a nice budget chinese food night.

Cashew Chicken
(adapted from Cashew Chicken with Water Chestnuts on allrecipes.com)

Yield 4 servings
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast meat - cut into cubes
2 cloves of garlic, minced

4 green onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped (can use green bell pepper instead)
1 (8 ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
2/3 cup cashews

Dissolve the cornstarch in the chicken broth, and stir in the soy sauce, ginger, and hot sauce; set aside. Heat half of the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Stir in the chicken; cook and stir until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan, and set aside.
Pour the remaining tablespoon of oil into the pan, and stir in the onion, garlic, bell pepper, and water chestnuts. Cook and stir until the chestnuts are hot, about 5 minutes more. Stir up the sauce to redistribute the cornstarch, then pour into the pan, and bring to a boil. Add the reserved chicken, and stir until the sauce thickens, and the chicken is hot. Sprinkle with cashews to serve.

Oh, and we can't forget about dessert! :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Starting up with Strawberry Shortcake

We believe that delicious food doesn't have to cost a fortune, and it shouldn't cause a stress headache either! We are two friends who love to cook and entertain...all within a budget. We are young wives with different perspectives: Catherine is a coupon savvy accountant, while Jennifer is a stay at home mom and part-time teacher. We hope that our blog may be a resource to those who love easy, affordable meals!

Both of us grew up learning cooking and baking skills from our moms. We often swap ideas from each other that originally came from childhood memories in the kitchen or our own experiences along the way.

For our first post we thought it would be fitting to write about a favorite recipe of both of ours that originally came from Catherine's mom, Janet, "Hot Milk Spongecake." Well in all honesty it actually came from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook but has been a favorite in Catherine's family for years.

Both Jenn and I were raised in a family where our moms did a lot of cooking from scratch. This sponge cake is a perfect example of how sometimes cooking from scratch can be even easier than hopping in your car to get a store made item.

Hot milk sponge cake is a great alternative to the often dry tasting shortcake cups that can be found at any supermarket. It is the perfect mix between a light angel food cake and a rich spongecake, and as a bonus it is a low fat recipe.

I have made this spongecake many times for Jenn and Matt when they come over for dinner and dessert and have passed along the recipe. The beautiful picture is Jenn's very first Hot Milk Sponge Cake that she put together for a great dessert while company was over.

With so many recipes that we love to try out and pass between each other, we thought it would be great to share our tips, successful recipes, and probably some kitchen fails to others who are just looking for some great recipes that have already been given the Jenn and Cat thumbs up. Now without further ado, our first blog recipe:

Hot Milk Sponge Cake
(from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, pg 181)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
Let eggs sit at room temp for 30 minutes. Grease a 9x9 inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 350F.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs on high speed for 4 minutes or until thick and lemon colored. Gradually add sugar, beating on medium speed for another 4 minutes or until light and fluffy.

Add flour to egg mixture and beat just until combined.

In a small saucepan, combine milk and butter, heating and stirring until the butter melts. Add to the batter and beat until coombined.

Pour batter into the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan on a cooling rack.