Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chocolate Bundt Cake

It had been a while since I had baked (I took a break after the holidays). I knew I wanted to make something, but I also wanted it to be light. This Chocolate Bundt Cake fit the bill. I saw the recipe on the Cooking Light Bulletin Board and knew that I had to make it.

The cake was very good - moist, chocolaty and light. I made it in a regular sized bundt pan, but since it calls for a smaller bundt, it came out really low. Next time I will follow the suggestion of the recipe and use a loaf pan. It also had a difficult time coming out. I have a silicone bundt and thought that I wouldn't have to spray the pan - I WAS WRONG :) Luckily, my family doesn't care about looks of dessert ;)

Chocolate Bundt Cake
A 6-cup Bundt pan is smaller than the standard size. You can also use a 9-inch round cake pan.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
2 teaspoons instant espresso granules
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (flour through salt) in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add butter, egg whites, and egg; beat with a mixer at low speed 1 minute. Beat at high speed 1 minute. Add milk, espresso granules, and vanilla; beat 1 minute. Pour batter into a 6-cup Bundt pan coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on a wire rack.

Yield: 10 servings (serving size: 1 piece)

CALORIES 192 (28% from fat); FAT 6g (sat 3.5g,mono 1.8g,poly 0.3g); IRON 1.3mg; CHOLESTEROL 34mg; CALCIUM 27mg; CARBOHYDRATE 32.8g; SODIUM 225mg; PROTEIN 4g; FIBER 1.8g

Cooking Light, JANUARY 2002

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I love to organize. Not at home - although I really try. Not in my car - although that would be great too.

I am very organized when it comes ot my computer. I file all attachments and documents in their own folders. I have my pictures organized by month and topic. My outlook email never has more than 80 items in its inbox.

The one I'm most proud of is my recipe files. Any time I see a recipe online that I want to try, I copy the text in to a word document. Then I file that recipe in my "2010 To Try" Folder. Once I make the recipe I move it to the "2010 Made" folder. Every year I go through recipe I never made and review them to see if I still want to make them. The ones I REALLY want to make move to my 2010 To Try folder, the ones I realize that I will never make get trashed and the rest stay in their respective years just in case I

Monday, January 25, 2010


I have been thinking recently about friendships. There are times I get in a rut when I think that no one likes me...or that my friends have stooped caring...or that I don't have enough friends.

And then I realize....

A any point in time I can call up at least 10 people who would be happy to hear from me. I can always find someone to go to coffee, drinks or dinner with if I am in the mood for that. When I travel to SF I have my pick of friends who want to see me.

For all that, and much, much more I am truly blessed. I have many acquaintances and many friends. I know the difference - but both make me who I am. I am a part of a community, in fact a number of communities and I am thankful for them all.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Random Comments from my Weekend

I have heard the following comments this weekend:

Big Monkey - You have to pick us up from Taekwondo because when I got out of school the biggest rain drop fell on my face! It was like hail! Proof that it never rains in LA since my big monkey was TRAUMATIZED!

Friend - You keep burning those napkins - you're like a necrophiliac. Um, no, you mean pyromaniac! In fact, ANYTHING BUT necrophiliac!

Big Monkey - (As I was telling my husband about the conversation above) Mommy, what's necrophilia? Me - nothing it's a nonsense word (while thinking in my head that she's going to probably start using the word around the school yard).

Me - I want to have a light dinner tonight. Dinner ended up being Lobster Dynamite, Halibut on Crispy Rice, Spicy Seafood over Noodles and Bourban Bread Pudding. Amazing, but NOT light!

The preceding describes my weekend well! What a fun weekend - and I got a bunch of personal book keeping work done today!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


We, in Los Angeles, are sissies. The storm is freaking us out, me included. There are moments when I am driving in the rain and I think that it's crazy to be driving in such "horrible" weather.

And then I smack myself because I realize that most cities in the US have snow in the winter. And while it is snowing, people still drive. So while I lament the fact that I can only go 40 MPH, I now realize that in some parts of the country, people are going 5 MPH, or are snowed in and can't go out at all.

I am a sissy :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Lately, the little monkey has been using "adult words" and it has me quite upset. The words aren't the ones you think they are, but every time I hear them, I cringe.

The words I am referring to are "psycho" and "stupid". The big monkey's friends used the word "psycho" once and the little monkey just latched on to it. She uses it
in the correct context, but to me its a "mean" word.

The word "stupid" is more difficult to curtail - because it is everywhere. One of the monkeys' favorite songs is "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor. Their favorite line - "I should have changed that STUPID lock". They also love the song "Stupid Girl". That word is such a regular part of society today that it becomes almost impossible to explain to a 5 year old that it is an inappropriate word.

Now I just have to go find a bar of soap - it doesn't have the same effect when you pump some soap in to your hand, lather up, and THEN stick the soap in to her mouth ;)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Free Food

I have come to the conclusion (yes, I am a slow learner) that there is no free lunch. I sign up for all of the restaurant reward programs. Once in a while I get a $20 gift card good towards food, but even that is at a location where each appetizer is almost $20!

Usually, I get emails with "free lunch" or simply "FREE" in the title. Once you open the email you see that you indeed get a free entree, when you PURCHASE another entree of equal or greater value. The ones that are my favorites are for free items -free onion rings, free fries, etc... Those are all well and good until you are trying to eat healthy. Then those emails are plain annoying.

How about "free salad" or "free grilled chicken breast"? Oh no! It's really the oil, butter and flour that is cheap to make, tasty to eat and bad for you - that's what is free. Sigh!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Black Bean Soup

I am a daily reader of the Smitten Kitchen. Many of her recipes look amazing. As soon as I saw this one, yesterday, I knew I had to make it.

This took me about 10 minutes to put together after I can home from dinner out. It was SO good! I didn't make the Chipotle and Toasted Cumin Seed Crème Fraîche but I'm sure it would give this soup an even better flavor and an added depth.

Black Bean Soup with Chipotle and Toasted Cumin Seed Crème Fraîche
Adapted from Bon Appetit

Yields 6 main course servings

1 tablespoon olive oil - omitted
2 medium-size red onions, chopped - I used one HUGE red onion
1 medium-size red bell pepper, chopped - didn't have, so omitted
1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped - didn't have, so omitted
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 16-ounce package dried black beans
1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chiles from a can (this gives it a solid kick, dial back if you are wary)
7 cups hot water (I just used very hot tap water)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice - used limequats (like kumquats but different)
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

You're supposed to heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and both bell peppers and sauté until beginning to brown, about eight minutes. Add garlic and cumin; stir one minute. I didn't do any of that - I just dumped everything in to the crock-pot. Transfer mixture to 6-quart slow cooker. Add beans and chipotles, then 7 cups hot water. Cover and cook on high until beans are very tender, about 3 hours. I actually cooked it for 8 hours on low, overnight.

Transfer two cups bean mixture to blender; puree until smooth. Return puree to remaining soup in slow cooker. Stir in lime juice, salt, and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste. Ladle soup into bowls.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I do not make New Years resolution's. It is an arbitrary day to start a new habit. If I want to make a change I should do so right away, right?

Regardless, January is a new beginning and I have been thinking about a couple of things I want to resolve. Therefore:

  • I will yell less at my kids - my husband brought it to my attention that I yell at the kids - A LOT!! In the moment, I know I am justified (and at times I do it to be heard over their yelling, complaining, zoning out) but its still not right. Today I only yelled once - and it was when they ran in to the bathroom to talk to me, as I was using it.
  • I will be more cognizant of what I eat - I exercise (or at least walk) 3-4 days a week. I'm OK with that. I eat healthy for the most part. However, I snack. And then I am SHOCKED when I gain weight. I also tend to eat out more than I should. And no matter what, my home made food is healthier than what I can buy for lunch.
  • I will take more time for myself - anyone who reads my blog knows that most days I am so busy running around and doing things for the kids, that I spend little time for myself (and when I do it's late at night and/or I feel guilty).
  • I will be thankful for everything I have been blessed with (my family, my health, my families health, my job, the roof over my head).

That's it for now. I hope I can keep these resolutions. I know I will definitely try.

Monday, January 11, 2010


For some in-explicable reason, I feel let down when the holidays are over.

I'm not in school, so I don't get winter break. I don't work for one of the company's that makes you take the week between Christmas and New Years off. I am no longer a child, so I don't have a ton of gifts waiting for me this season. I'm not Christian so I don't celebrate Christmas and get overly excited about Jesus.

I guess it's like the end of summer. It's another reminder that time is swiftly passing by. I remember hoping that time would go by quickly so that I could "the one"...get married...have kids, etc...

In today's world, I hope that time would slow down so that I didn't have to rush to get the kids to school/activities/bed, get myself to work/working out/paying bills/grocery shopping/etc...

From childhood to adulthood, not only does your outlook on life change, but so does your perspective. Not sure yet what it means :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Asian Summer Salad

Months ago I had a Pampered Chef party. The consultant gave me a couple of recipes to get ready so that she could demonstrate some of the products.

This recipe was a COMPLETE hit. In fact, I made it for the New Years party and I got rave reviews for it again. One of our friends said that it was one of her favorite things that I made!

Asian Summer Salad

8 ounces uncooked vermicelli pasta
3/4 cup julienne-cut carrots, 2 inches long
3/4 cup julienne-cut zucchini, 2 inches long
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/3 cup sliced green onions with tops
3/4 pound deli roast turkey or chicken breast, cut 1/2 inch thick - I usually omit the meat

1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 T. rice vinegar
3 T. reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 t. sugar
1/8 t. ground red pepper
1 t. finely chopped, peeled fresh gingerroot
1 garlic clove, pressed
Coarsely chopped peanuts or cashews and fresh cilantro (optional)

For salad, break vermicelli into quarters. Cook according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Place vermicelli in large Bowl and set aside. Using Julienne Peeler, cut carrots and zucchini into julienne strips; cut strips into 2-inch pieces using Chef’s Knife. Chop bell pepper and slice green onions. Cut turkey into thin pieces, 2" long. Add vegetables and turkey to vermicelli. For dressing, combine oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and ground red pepper in Small Batter Bowl. Peel gingerroot; finely chop using Food Chopper. Add gingerroot and garlic pressed with Garlic Press to batter bowl. Mix well using Stainless Steel Whisk. Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour to allow flavors to blend. Spoon salad into serving bowl. Garnish with chopped peanuts and cilantro, if desired. Yield: 6 servings

Cook’s Tips: This salad can be prepared up to 1 day in advance.

per serving: (1 2/3 cups): Cal: 300, Fat 11 g, Sat. Fat 1.5 g, Chol: 25 mg, Carb: 35 g, Pro: 16 g, Sod: 980 mg, Fiber 2 g

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Orange Sesame Chicken

I brought a dish to my friends house to complement the boiled lobster we were having. I had seen it that day on one of my favorite blogs, Culinary in the Desert. The way Joe describes the recipes, they all seem do-able.

This one was quite easy, and OH SO tasty! I doubled the recipe and these were devoured in about 10 minutes flat!

It all came together very quickly - I threw the shrimp in the marinade and brought it to my friends house, along with the sauce mixture, and whipped it up at her house.

Sesame-Orange Shrimp (Adapted from Culinary in the desert, who adapted it from Eating Well)

1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 large egg whites
16 ounces (1 pound) peeled and deveined raw shrimp
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided (I used cooking spray)
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup dry sherry (I used mirin - a rice wine)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 scallion, thinly sliced
cooked brown basmati rice, if desired for serving

In a medium bowl, whisk together cornstarch, sesame seeds, salt, pepper and egg whites. Add shrimp and toss well to coat.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Add half of the shrimp - cook until each side is golden, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Scoop shrimp out onto a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Repeat process with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and shrimp, scooping them out onto the plate when done.

Into the skillet, stir in orange juice, sherry, soy sauce and sugar. Bring mixture to a boil - cook, stirring, until slightly thickened and reduced by half, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add shrimp back into the skillet, stirring to coat, then remove from the heat. Sprinkle sliced scallion over the top - serve over brown basmati rice, if desired.

Makes about 4 servings.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Branding is Everything

Yesterday we were in the car with the big monkey, picking up the little monkey.

Husband: Monkey, do you want to come get coffee with us and you can have hot chocolate?
Monkey: Sure. Where's the Starbucks?
Me: No, we're getting coffee at the gas station.
Monkey: Ooh, AM/PM? That means I can get candy!
Me to husband: This is your fault, snicker, snicker, lol!

Sigh! At least she knows where to go if shes ever in need of a coffee or sugar fix!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A 6 Day Weekend :)

I like my job. Really, I do. I work on a number of different projects. Many of them are things that are outside my normal realm of responsibilities, so I have to think outside the box. That being said, I have loved having long weekends!!

I really think that we would benefit from working 4, 40s (4 days a week, 10 hours a day = 40 hours) and having long weekends every week.

I was talking about that with some friends tonight and one of their daughters said, "Yes, but then you would want to a 4 day weekend, then a 5 day weekend, etc.."

Hmmm, that sounds pretty good :) Of course, the monkeys school would still be in session 5 days a week :)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Cooking, etc...

I was just watching the Julie & Julia movie and was enthralled. In one scene, Julia Child wonders what she is good at. The answer comes to her - she's good at eating :) She is always thinking about food, and she even dreams about it.

There are many times I feel that way as well. I don't cook every night, but I do devour cooking magazines like they are novels. I imagine cooking the recipes and then eating the meals. Interestingly enough, I sometimes look up old recipes that I have bookmarked to make and realize that my moods have shifted and/or that my taste buds have changed (I was going to say evolved, but I don't think that the things that sounds good to me now are better, just different).

I also feel the same way about cooking catalogs. I think my favorite one has to be Williams Sonoma, but I also LOVE Sur La Table and Crate and Barrel. I always discover fabulous new tools/bowls/serving pieces that I would love to own. I imagine owning them, cooking with them, serving out of them.

In fact, my husband and kids got me a couple of cooking items from Crate and Barrel for the holidays, and I must return one. I am excited to go there tomorrow - to me, that is my "candy store".