Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Summery Fruit Salad

I'm back with a healthy recipe, here people. Consistently inconsistent, right?

I made this refreshing fruit salad to keep as a quick snack and easy healthy lunch item for week day lunches. I actually meant to include jicama in it as well, but forgot to pick some up at the store. The husband requested grapes be included, but they were super expensive for some reason, and they didn't actually look that great, so I opted to leave them out this time. But that's the great thing about fruit salad, you can really just throw in whatever you want: pineapple, grapes, oranges, papaya, whatever.

I decided to use a squeeze of lime juice instead of dressing to keep the salad simple and healthy, as well as let the flavors of the fruit shine through. The lime juice gives all the fruit a nice tang and the basil adds an interesting savory-sweet depth of flavor.

Summery Fruit Salad
Source: A Cooking in Cucamonga Original
Printable Recipe

1/2 a small seedless watermelon
1 pound strawberries
2 pints blueberries
2 kiwi
1 champagne mango
4-5 small basil leaves
juice of 1 lime

Rinse all fruit well. Remove the strawberry stems, peel the kiwi and mango, julienne the basil, and cut the watermelon into chunks.

Toss all of the fruit together in a large bowl with the lime juice. Refrigerate until it is time to serve.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Nutella Brownies

Note: sorry for the poor photo. I baked these in the evening, after the natural light was gone, and we didn't cut into them until several hours later when it was pitch black out, so I didn't even try a photo then.

I hope you caught the irony in this post after yesterday's narration. First I give you a recipe for veggie kabobs and tell you all about the new healthy lifestyle the husband and I are embarking upon, then I follow up with a post about Nutella brownies.

What can I say, I'm consistently inconsistent. (Dead Like Me reference, anyone?)

That, and who can resist Nutella? Especially when the BIG jar is on sale.

I made these brownies for some friends of ours who were visiting from Santa Barbara, just as a sweet treat and a thanks for always thinking of us when they're in town. Everyone raved about how good they were :), and I just had to agree. The best part of making these brownies? The night of drinks with friends that followed, and a dozen fresh chicken eggs from another good friend (thanks again Peggy!).

I modified a brownie recipe from Baker's chocolate, but you could use any basic brownie recipe you like, even a boxed mix, and just swirl in the Nutella. I ran out of white AP flour while making these brownies, so I used half white, half wheat and no one was any wiser.

Nutella Brownies
Source: Adapted from Baker's Chocolate
Printable Recipe

4 squares unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1 Tablespoon Nutella + another 1/4 cup or so


Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13" pan with foil, then spray with non-stick spray.

Roughly chop the chocolate, then toss in a microwave-safe bowl with the butter. Microwave 1-2 minutes, until the butter is melted and stir to melt the chocolate. Stir until smooth; you may need to microwave for another 15-30 seconds to fully melt all the chocolate.

Stir in the sugar.

Add in the vanilla, eggs, and 1 Tablespoon Nutella and stir until combined. Mix in the flour, then pour the batter into the 9 x 13" pan.

Spoon dollops of Nutella onto the brownie batter, then using a butter knife or a spoon, swirl the Nutella into the brownie batter, creating a marble effect.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with small fudgy crumbs. Do not overbake!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Eat Your Veggies

The husband and I are on a kind of health kick right now and have been working out a few times a week together. I've even started running a couple times a week, 3 miles at a time. This is a pretty big accomplishment for me-I've always hated running and would walk as soon as my legs began to hurt. Now that first mile is so easy it feels like I am floating down the track, and even though I am exhausted by the end of my third mile, I feel amazing for running the whole way without stopping or walking.

So with this recent focus on living healthier, we're trying to eat healthier dinners as well and eat a serving of veggies with dinner every night. The husband and I both love grilled veggie kabobs, which makes it even easier to get more nutritious food into our diets. They are full of fiber, making them very filling, and low in calories/fat. The best part about vegetable kabobs is customizing them to what you like and what's available in your store. I used 3 different types of squash and 2 different peppers, but you could use mushrooms, shrimp, onion--whatever you like!

Grilled Kabobs
Source: A Cooking in Cucamonga Original
Printable Recipe


3-4 turkey & chicken basil sausage (I buy mine at Trader Joe's)
1 zucchini
1 yellow crook-neck squash
1 calabeza
1 bell pepper
1 poblano pepper

If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30-60 minutes so they don't burn up on the grill.

Prepare a charcoal grill with an even layer of charcoal on the bottom of the grill.

Cut all of the vegetables and sausages up into bite sized chunks, of even thickness. Thread them onto the skewers, alternating the different vegetables and sausage.

Lay the skewers on the grill in a single layer and grill for 2-3 minutes, rotating the skewers.

Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper if desired and enjoy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Smooth like buttah

Ever since I started blogging about a year ago, I've noticed several tutorials on butter making floating around the web. I always read them with interest, but didn't really plan on making my own. It's not any cheaper to make butter yourself, and it takes some patience, plus I like that store-bought butter is wrapped in paper that neatly marks each tablespoon-perfect for measuring when I want to bake.

After I made the husband's birthday dessert, I still had a ton of heavy whipping cream leftover (I forgot to check how much I'd need for his pie, so I just bought a quart container), which I didn't want to go bad. But after such a decadent dessert, I felt like we needed to lay off the sweets for awhile, so the cream continued to sit in my fridge. But then Joy the Baker poster a new butter making tutorial, and I decided to give it a whirl. I'd made whipped cream several times before, and butter is just a few stages past whipped cream, so I figured "why not?"

Oh my. Homemade butter is so smooth and creamy. Perfection. I was licking it off the spatula, the knife, the beaters. I was eating butter all by itself. I should probably make some rolls to smear it on.

Homemade Butter
Source: Joy the Baker
Printable Recipe

heavy whipping cream (I had about 1.5 cups)

Chill your mixing bowl and wire whisk in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes prior to making the butter. This will help the cream evolve from liquid to whipped cream to butter faster. This is an optional step, so don't panic if you forget to do it. :)

Pour the cream into the bowl of your electric mixer. Fit the mixer with the wire whisk attachment and beat on medium.

The cream will begin to thicken and form peaks. You've reached the whipped cream stage. I really wanted to pour in some powdered sugar and eat it by the spoonful, but I restrained myself and kept mixing.

Keep mixing. It will feel like forever. You might wonder if your cream is ever going to morph into butter. If you're like me and BBQ'ing while making butter, you may worry that the BBQ smell is your mixer's motor beginning to smoke. Don't worry, it's not. Keep mixing.

Your whipped cream will begin to get thick and chunky. Slow the mixer down a bit to avoid splashing buttermilk everywhere. Keep mixing for about another minute.

You should have thick clumps and some cloudy water in the bottom of the bowl. Spoon the butter into a fine mesh strainer, dumping out any water left in the mixing bowl. Gently press the water out of the butter with a spatula. Push out as much water as you can and then return the butter to the mixing bowl.

Mix for another minute or two. The clumpy butter will transform into smooth, creamy, spreadable goodness. Return the butter to the strainer and dump out any extra water.

At this point, one of Joy's readers recommends kneading the butter in extremely icy cold water, dumping out the water when it gets cloudy. I tried this, but I couldn't keep my hands in that freezing water! I pulled it out, squeezed out the water and threw the butter back in the mixing bowl.

Add about a 1/4 teaspoon of salt and mix on low to incorporate. Spoon the butter into a ziplock bag, squeeze out any extra air, and refrigerate up to two weeks.

Try not to eat by the spoonful.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Marinated Grilled Salmon

It often feels like the husband and I eat nothing but chicken and ground turkey. Mainly because when we eat at home, we eat pretty much nothing but chicken and turkey. :) We made a conscious decision some months ago not to buy red meat anymore (though we do every once and awhile, like the birthday filet mignon) for a variety of reasons, and we don't really eat fish (other than sushi), since I am not a fan. The husband doesn't eat pork (other than some occasional bacon and baby back ribs) and while we like lamb, I never think to pick any up at the store.

So once you look at those self-imposed restrictions, we really are left with poultry as our only non-veggie option. But the husband recently mentioned that he misses eating fish, so since I like to keep him happy, I picked up two wild Alaskan salmon fillets on my next trip to the grocery store. I googled "grilled salmon" and found an appealing marinade on

Well, I am glad I agreed to adding some fish into our meal plan again! This salmon turned out perfectly! The brown sugar gives a hint of sweetness to the fish and the grill infuses a smokey flavor throughout the flaky flesh. This was nothing like the mushy, fishy-tasting salmon I remembered from the last time I cooked up some fish. It definitely helped that I bought high quality fish, rather than the big bag of frozen fillets at Costco. I told the husband I would definitely eat this dish again, so it looks like fish will be making a more regular appearance on our weekly menus in the near future.

Marinated Grilled Salmon
Source: adapted from Allrecipes
Printable Recipe

2 Wild Alaskan salmon fillets, about 1.5 pounds
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground ginger
freshly ground black pepper
sprinkle salt

Sprinkle each fillet with salt and pepper.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and stir until the sugar is fully incorporated.

Place the salmon fillets in a large ziplock bag and pour in the marinade. Turn to fully coat. Refrigerate and let marinade for 2 hours.

Soak a handful of wood chips in cold water while the fish marinates.

Heat a charcoal grill. Once the coals are white hot, sprinkle the wet wood on top of the coals. Grill the fish, with the lid on to trap the smoke from the wood chips, for about 4-6 minutes per side, depending on thickness.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

You put the lime in the coconut...

As soon as I saw this recipe for coconut lime bundt cake, that old song sprang to mind. But I have to ask, did Coke used to have a commercial with the lyrics "You put the lime in the coke, you nut, and drink em all up? Because I swear, that is how I remember the song, but when I looked up the lyrics that was not what came up? Anyone?

But, again, I digress. I made this cake for Mother's Day, cutting it in half so I could give half to my mom and the husband could give half to his mom. My mom unwrapped it and my dad immediately said, "Is the other half for the husband's mom?" and laughed when I confirmed. The husband said his mom enjoyed it as well, reaching for a fork as soon as she pulled the foil off.

This recipe calls for shredded coconut; you can use either sweetened or unsweetened, but since I have a sweet tooth and this is a dessert, I went with sweetened. The cake is very moist, light and sweet, with a strong coconut flavor, due to the can of coconut milk. It, however, wasn't limey enough for me, though this could be reconciled by drizzling with a lime glaze.

Coconut Lime Bundt Cake
Source: My Kitchen in the Rockies
Printable Recipe

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
4 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup lime juice (about 7-9 limes)
zest of 2 large limes
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons dark rum, optional (I used Malibu coconut rum)
3/4 cup shredded coconut
additional butter and flour for greasing pan

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Liberally grease a bundt pan with the additional butter, making sure to get it in each depression. Sprinkle the additional flour into the pan, turning it to fully cover the butter. Turn the pan over and gently tap out any extra flour.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Heat the coconut milk and butter in a small saucepan, just until the butter is melted and the milk is heated through. Stir in the lime juice. Set aside, but keep warm.

Using the whisk attachment, combine the lime zest and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the eggs and beat on medium-high for 3 minutes, until the mixture is pale yellow, thick, and doubled in volume. Beat in the vanilla and rum. Scrape down the sides of the mixer with a rubber spatula.

Pour in the dry ingredients and mix on low, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Add in the shredded coconut and mix on low just until everything is combined.

Pour in the warm coconut mixture in a steady stream until smooth.

Pour the cake batter into the greased bundt pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick or butter knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Top with a lime-sugar glaze and additional shredded coconut, or just sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Chocolate Overload Nutella-Mousse Brownie Pie

Did you read the title up there? Chocolate Overload Nutella-Mousse Brownie Pie.

Oh. My. God.


Chocolate Mousse.




This is some serious business. I have a little thing for Nutella.

That's an understatement. Nutella and I have engaged in a love affair in previous years. I had to break it off years ago, it just wasn't a healthy relationship. We first met when I was a young 20-year-old, first venturing out into the world, yet feeling a bit homesick during a stint in London. The first thick spoonful of chocolate, eaten alone in a hostel kitchen, squelched any longings for home right away. I fell hard and fast, head over heels in love.

But then I returned home, went away for the last few years of college, and broke off our love. The thought of all those chocolate-hazelnut calories glomming onto my body kept me away for years. Until I saw this recipe.


Yeah, I had to say it twice.

As soon as I saw this chocolate brownie mousse pie I knew I *needed* to make it--Immediately.

Thankfully, the husband had a birthday coming up. There was only one problem: he wanted red velvet cupcakes. Red velvet is my kitchen foe, so I usually resort to buying the Sprinkle's mix from William-Sonoma. So I did what any good wife chocolate-lover would do....I convinced him he should opt for this chocolaty-goodness instead. Happily the chocolate-on-chocolate dessert was a hit, and no mention of red velvet was made again.

I may have also licked the Nutella jar clean. But that's just between you and me.

Chocolate Overload Nutella-Mousse Brownie Pie

Source: Adapted from Sing for Your Supper, brownie recipe from Baker's Chocolate

Printable Recipe

Brownie Ingredients

4 squares unsweetened chocolate

1 1/2 sticks butter

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour

Chocolate Mousse Ingredients

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon Nutella, plus additional for drizzling

1/2 pint (1 cup) heavy whipping cream

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

5 ounces cream cheese, softened


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9", deep dish pie pan with nonstick spray.

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate and butter in the microwave (I did 45 second increments) until the butter is melted. Stir to melt the chocolate.

Stir the sugar into the chocolate, ensuring it is well combined. Add the vanilla and eggs and stir until completely combined. Add in the flour, stirring until well blended.

Pour the brownie mixture into the pie pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (mine actually took about 55 minutes).

Remove from the oven and allow to cool, in the pie pan, on a wire rack.

Once the brownies are completely cooled whip the cream, vanilla and sugar in a mixing bowl, using the whisk attachment, until stiff peaks form. Spoon into another bowl and set aside.

In the same mixing bowl (no need to wash), mix the cream cheese and Nutella, with the paddle attachment, until well combined.

Gently fold in half the whipped cream with a spatula. Repeat with the remaining whipped cream, gently folding until the whipped cream is fully incorporated. Do not stir or you will lose the fluffiness of the whipped cream.

Using a large spatula, spread the mousse over the cooled brownies. Spoon the remaining Nutella into a small ziplock bag. Snip off the corner and pipe over the mousse. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

The birthday husband wearing his new Niners jersey and posing with his bday decorations. :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Filet Mignon

The husband turned 30 last week, which bummed him out a bit. Knowing he wasn't too excited about entering a new decade (a horror I don't have to face for another year and a half, thank God), I wanted to make this birthday amazing.

He requested steak for dinner, so I headed out to Henry's and asked the butcher for their best cut of meat. They had some preimo-quality filet mignon on sale, which the butcher and his assistant *highly* recommended, so of course, I picked a few up. I asked the butcher for a few cooking tips, since I'd never cooked a filet before, and I have to say these steaks were amazing! Melt in your mouth tender, flavorful, and perfectly done. This coming from a woman who is not really a big fan of steak. But I was so glad I was able to make a delicious steak and make the husband happy on his birthday.

Before he came home, I also stopped by Target and picked up some birthday decorations (no over the hills banners here!) and was surprised to find the 49'ers Jerry Rice jersey I bought as a gift in our mail box--I wasn't expecting that to arrive for several more days. Perfect timing!

But I time you have a special occasion to celebrate, go pick up some premium filet mignon, and grill 'em up.

Filet Mignon
Source: Advice of the butcher at my market
Printable Recipe

filet mignon
sprinkle salt
a heavy shake of pepper

Remove filets from the refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to cooking. Wipe them off with a paper towel to remove any extra moisture--this will help get a nice sear on the outside.

Sprinkle one side of each filet with a bit of salt and a heavy shake of pepper. Let sit.

Heat a charcoal grill to high heat, with the charcoal heaped in the middle. You will be cooking these both direct and indirect.

Once the grill is hot, place the filets directly over the heat and cover. Cook for 3 minutes. Using tongs, gently turn the meat over. Cook for another minute or 2, then move to indirect heat until finished cooking. Rare (135 degrees) or medium (140 degrees) is best, as this is a lean cut of meat.

Remove from the heat, cover with foil and let rest for 5-10 minutes, so the meat can reabsorb the juices.

Plate and pour any juices from the plate over the filets.

Enjoy! And Happy Birthday, Husband!!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Tequila Marinated Chicken Thighs

I recently bought a bottle of tequila to make a batch of margarita cupcakes (which were a fail, by the way :/), but I really only needed a few tablespoons, so I had pretty much a full bottle sitting around. I *really* just wanted to make a blender full of potent margaritas with it, but I can't handle a tequila hangover during the week, so I marinated some chicken in the boozy goodness instead.

Ohhhh, such a good idea! This chicken came out super tender and flavorful. I upped the amount of tequila from the 2 Tablespoons called for in the original recipe to 4 Tablespoons - I wanted to make sure the tequila flavor would come through in the cooked chicken. This was definitely a good choice--we could taste the tequila, but it didn't overwhelm the rest of the flavors.

I have to admit a bit of a flub on my point though. I didn't check the amount of charcoal I had on hand before getting started. When I went to fire up the grill my charcoal bag had maybe 10 briquettes in it! I didn't have time to go buy more, so I tried to make do with what I had. Yeah, that didn't work; the grill didn't get hot enough to cook the chicken. After about 10 minutes on the grill, the meat all had nice grill marks, but was still completely raw, so I cranked the broiler up to high and threw the chicken in there to finish cooking. Annoying, but a good solution to my dilemma. :)

Tequila-Marinated Chicken Thighs
Source: Adapted from The Mexican Cookbook
Printable Recipe

12-15 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
11 garlic cloves, finely chopped
juice of 2 limes, plus 1/2 a lime
juice of 1 orange
4 Tablespoons tequila
1 Tablespoon New Mexico chili powder
1 Tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sugar
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of ground cumin
3-4 springs oregano, leaves stripped from the stems
2 teaspoons pepper

Pour all of the ingredients, except for the half lime, in a large ziplock bag. Add the chicken and turn the bag to coat.

Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Preheat the barbecue until hot. Cook the chicken, turning once, until cooked all the way through (165 degrees).

Remove from grill and let sit, covered, for about 5 minutes to reabsorb the juices.

Squeeze the juice of the remaining half a lime over the chicken and serve.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Taco Salad

One of my favorite summer meals is taco salad. It is really easy to throw together, and is a perfect light meal for those days when it is just too hot.

We're not quite in summer yet, though the weather has been heating up this week...after a 2 week spell of wintery cold weather. I made this for dinner on a recent warm day when I didn't really feel like cooking dinner. I had some leftover grilled chicken and carne asada in the fridge, so I convinced the husband that a meaty salad would make a great dinner. He was still a bit hungry later that evening, so if you have a big appetite, you might want to serve some rice and beans with this salad.

I like to crush the tortilla chips and sprinkle them over the top of this salad, but the husband prefers them uncrushed and the salad heaped on top; serve your's however you prefer. I also think that Fresh and Easy's Lime Tortilla Chips are the best for this salad as they add another kick of flavor.

Taco Salad
Source: A Cooking in Cucamonga Original

1/2 pound grilled carne asada
3 grilled chicken thighs
1/2 head Romaine lettuce
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
3 green onions, sliced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 bag frozen corn, or 1-2 ears fresh corn, steamed or grilled, kernals cut off
1/2 cup shredded cheese
tortilla chips (I used colby jack, but pepper jack or sharp cheddar are good choices too)
2 limes

Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces. If these are refridgerated leftovers, heat for about 30 seconds to cut the chill. If the meat has just been cooked, set aside and let cool; you don't want the meat to be so hot it wilts the lettuce.

Rinse and dry all of the vegetables.

Tear the lettuce into small pieces and put them into a large serving bowl. Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, green onions, and meat. Squeeze the lime juice over the salad and toss.

Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top of the salad.

Serve with the tortilla chips and spoon some salsa over the top.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Grilled Yogurt Chicken

I was recently housesitting for my parents while they enjoyed a 7 day Mexican Rivera cruise. *sigh* How nice. Anyway, my mom left me a big stack of magazines to go through, as she was planning to throw them away. She had Women's Day, Martha Stewart Living, Southern Living, and Sunset, none of which I subscribe to. I eagerly begin flipping through the magazines, looking for new recipes and ideas, when I found this chicken recipe. I headed out to the grocery store, bought the ingredients and fired up the grill.

This is a quick and easy dinner that I could see myself making even on a hectic weeknight. Don't be intimidated by pounding the chicken out, it's simple and even kind of fun! :) I do think the marinade could use a bit more flavor, so I might add some sliced green onions and possibly a bit of lime juice or garlic powder next time.

Grilled Yogurt Chicken
Source: adapted from Sunset Magazine

Printable Recipe


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt (I used garlic salt)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric (I omitted)
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Layer chicken breasts between plastic wrap and pound to an even thickness (about 1/4 of an inch). I used a large cast iron skillet, whacking the chicken, to accomplish this.

Prepare a grill to high heat.

Meanwhile, combine the yogurt, cumin, lemon, salt, pepper, tumeric, and chili flakes in a medium bowl. Dip the chicken in the bowl, one piece at a time, coating both sides with the yogurt mixture. Let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Throw out the remaining marinade.

Pour the oil on a paper towel and rub the grill grates with it to help prevent the chicken from sticking.

Grill the chicken for about 3-4 minutes per side. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired, and serve.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Steamed Artichokes and Lemon Butter

I love artichokes; they make a quick, easy meal. Just boil some water and steam until the leaves are soft. I remember my mom serving steamed artichokes as the main entree for dinner in the spring and summer when I was growing up, so when I saw artichokes at Fresh and Easy recently, I decided to pick one up for myself.

I know many people like dipping them in mayo, but seeing as I am not really a fan of the condiment, I prefer dipping mine in butter. I love the zippy tang of citrus fruit, so I figured adding a squeeze of lemon to the butter would be a great way to jazz up this simple dish.

Steamed Artichokes with Lemon Butter
Source: Cooking in Cucamonga Original
Printable Recipe


artichokes (1-2 per person)
butter (about 2 Tablespoons per person)
lemon juice (about 1 1/2 Tablespoons per person)


Fill a large stockpot with water. Set a steamer basket on top of the water; make sure there is about 2 inches between the bottom of the steamer basket and the top of the water. Cover and bring to a boil.

Rinse the artichokes. You can also cut off the pointed ends if you like, but I leave mine as is.

Add the artichokes to the steamer basket once the water is boiling (you may need to cook them in batches if you are serving a crowd) and cover the pot. Leave the lid on and steam them for 25-45 minutes, depending on the size of the artichoke; you should be able to pull the outer leaves off pretty easily once they are done. My artichoke took about 33 minutes.

While the artichokes are steaming, combine the butter and lemon juice in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 10 second increments until the butter is melted. Portion the melted lemon butter into individual dishes for each person.

Pull the leaves off the artichokes and dip into the lemon butter, scraping the flesh off the underside of the leaves with your teeth.

Once you get to the middle of the artichoke, scrape off the fuzziness--you've uncovered the heart. Eat the heart whole, dipped in butter, or save for later use in salads, pizzas, and calzones.

Monday, May 3, 2010

3 Cheese Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms

Mmm, doesn't that sound yummy? Not just one cheese, but THREE cheeses stuffed into a portabello mushroom. Now what if I told you one of those cheeses-the main cheese, even- is cottage cheese?

Wait, stop!

Don't hit the back button!

While cottage cheese may be the lumpy, bumpy mainstay of diet food, when combined with some mozzarella and parmesean, mixed with garlic-sauteed spinach and heaped into a beefy portabello cap, that lumpy excuse for a cheese comes alive. The flavor of the mushroom seeps into the cheeses, flavoring everything with a cheesy-earthy taste that is simply delicious. I know I am pushing my luck with some of you readers (people are still questioning my decision to make basil ice cream....unless they were lucky enough to get a taste. Those people are lining up for more.)

I have to admit, originally I was going to make Ricotta and Spinach-Stuffed Mushrooms, but I deviated for a few reasons:

1. I could stand to lose a few pounds (I let you decide what "a few" means), and cottage cheese is a low fat option.

2. Cottage cheese was significantly cheaper at my local Fresh & Easy, and I was trying to save money (so I could spend it on ice cream instead :/ )

3. I wanted a new recipe that I could blog, rather than a rehash of something I've already done.

Since I am housesitting for my parents, this was the perfect opportunity to try out the cottage cheese mushroom. No husband to worry about pleasing and plenty of time to make something else if this turned out badly since it only takes me 15 minutes to get to their house from work.

This was definitely a winner and will be made again. The husband will have to just deal...

3 Cheese Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms
Source: A Cooking in Cucamonga Original
Printable Recipe

2 portabello mushroom caps
3/4 cup low fat cottage cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons Parmesean cheese
1 tablespoon shredded mozarella, plus additional to top
1 bag of fresh spinach
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil


Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Rinse the portabellos, removing the stems and gills.

Spray a small baking dish with non-stick spray and cook the mushrooms, gill-side up, for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large sauce pan. Sautee the garlic and spinach, just until the garlic is soft and the spinach is wilted.

In a medium bowl, combine the cooked spinach and garlic with the cottage cheese, parmesean cheese, and 1 tablespoon mozarella cheese. Add in the salt, pepper, and crushed chili peppers. Set aside.

Remove the mushroom caps from the oven. Spoon the cheese and spinach mixture into the mushrooms. It is ok to mound it slightly higher than the mushroom's edge. Sprinkle each cap with additional shredded mozarella cheese.

Return the mushrooms to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes. The cheese should be melted and slightly golden. It may run into the baking pan a bit.

Plate each mushroom and serve.


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