Sunday, February 26, 2012


You will find our TV is almost always on HGTV or Food Network. Recently, I got into watching Chopped on Food Network. The chef contestants receive a basket with three to four surprise ingredients and they must use each ingredient in the course they are preparing along with any additional items they find in the pantry or refridgerator. With each course a chef is eliminated.

I wanted to put my cooking abilities to the test in a mock Chopped competition. It wasn't difficult getting my husband on board - he's usually up for anything that involves me cooking and him eating. He went through past episodes online to determine the ingredients for each course.


Oh, I was so confident until I opened that shoe box with eggs, peanut butter and apple and my mind went blank.  I decided to combine two recipes I've made - quiche and a bacon apple chutney.

Bacon, apple, onion quiche with mixed greens
While three pieces of bacon cook over medium heat, chop one tart apple and 1/3 c yellow onion. Remove bacon when crisp. Add the onion to the pan with the bacon grease and cook for one minute. Add apple and cook until soft. I typically would add sugar at this point, but instead I added 2 teaspoons of peanut butter to sweeten the mixture. I chopped the bacon and added it to pan along with salt and pepper to taste.

Line six muffin cups with prepared pie crust. Divide the bacon apple mixture and pour an egg mixture (three eggs and 1/2 c whole milk) to fill each cup. I baked the quiches at 350 for 25-30 minutes. So delicious even my daughter enjoyed it!


The main course ingredients were ground sirloin, rolled oats, ramen noodles, tomato paste, grape jelly and white beans. A six ingredient challenge!

Meatloaf with grape jelly and tomato glaze
Chop 1/2 a can of white beans in the food processor and add to a mixing bowl with one pound ground sirloin, the seasoning packet from the ramen noodles and 1/2 c of rolled oats, 1/2 c chopped yellow onion, salt and pepper and one egg. Mix together and spread into a greased loaf pan. Cook at 350 for 45 minutes.

While the meatloaf was cooking, I blended 3 T tomato paste, 3 T grape jelly and 1 T worcestershire sauce. Even my husband will vow, it's better than ketchup. I spread this mixture on the meatloaf and cooked for 10 additional minutes.


The final ingredients were white chocolate, donuts, dried apricots and gouda cheese. The cheese really through me for a loop and after I spent time thinking about how to making a cheesecake without cream cheese (we didn't have any in the refrigerator), I decided to make a custard.

Chocolate cheese custard with apricot simple syrup
Chop the donut in the food processor with 1/8 t of cinnamon. Push the mixture into four ramekin dishes to make a crust and bake on 350 until edges are lightly browned.

While crust is baking, mix 2 egg yolks and 2 T sugar. Heat six squares of white chocolate, 1/3 c grated gouda cheese and one cup whole milk in sauce pan over medium heat. When chocolate and gouda has melted, add small amount (1-2 T at a time) to egg mixture whisking constantly. Then add entire mixture back into sauce pan over medium heat and continue to whisk until thick.

Pour custard into ramekins and bake at 350 until firm (approximately 30 minutes).

While custard is baking, add 1/4 c sugar, 1/4 c water and 1/4 c chopped dried apricots to sauce pan. Heat over medium high heat until liquid has reduced to 2 T. Cool. Then blend in food processor until smooth.

Remove ramekins from oven and cool slightly. Brush eat custard dish with 2 t apricot glaze.

The entire challenge took about five hours with clean up between each dish. Afterwards, we were full and exhausted, but it was a fun Saturday night. I may not make some of these dishes again, but I hope this post inspires you, as it did me, to use the ingredients on hand in the future. You might just surprise yourself. Not convinced? Try the grape jelly, tomato paste, worchestershire sauce combo.

Low fat, gluten free chocolate chip cookies

We are very picky about our chocolate chip cookies around here, so it is very rare when I experiment with   a recipe substituting all-purpose flour for gluten free options and butter for healthier alternatives and it actually works out.

This makes four dozen cookies, but I froze the dough so we would have fresh cookies for months.

Preheat oven to 350.

Beat 1/4 c room temperature butter, 1/3 c room temperature applesauce, 1/4 cup coconut oil (if you don't like coconut flavor or don't have coconut oil, just use more butter), 3/4 c granulated sugar and 1 c light brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add two eggs and 2 t vanilla extract and mix until combined.

In another bowl combine 1 1/2 c brown rice flour, 1/2 c potato starch, 1/4 c tapioca starch, 1/4 c oat flour, 1 t baking soda, 1/2 t baking powder, 1 t xanthan gum and 1/2 t salt.

Add dry ingredients to wet. Stir in one 12 ounce package of semisweet chocolate chips.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until edges are lightly browned.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Treats

Happy Valentine's Day.

I'm behind on posting, so I have to do two entries, but I'll keep it short.

There is something about the month of February. All the best things happen to me this month - I was engaged five years ago on Valentine's Day, we closed on our first house at the end of February, my daughter was born, we found about one year ago today that we had an accepted offer on our dream house. I have a soft spot for Valentine's Day even if it is just a greeting card holiday.

Here's my "recipe" for a Valentine's Day treat:
Chex muddy buddies, M&Ms and chocolate covered pretzels in a mason jar tied with a ribbon.

And I couldn't resist posting a picture of Emmerson enjoying her heart-shaped pancake with fruit and whipped cream.

Sewing 101

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve used a sewing machine, but after receiving estimates for window treatments, I thought I better see what I can do. I ordered a sewing machine and went to work – first starting with a pillowcase dress for my daughter. Yes, there is three inches of snow on the ground, but it was the simplest project I could find to test my skills.

I bought the fabric too small, so it came out more like a shirt than a dress, but it works. 
Next, I thought I would dive right in and try to make a roman shade. I purchased some inexpensive fabric from Joann’s and started with the laundry room shade that not many people will see (in case it didn’t turn out).

I used these step-by-step instructions. The total cost for the materials was $100 (and that includes extra wood, string, screws and a staple gun). The estimates were around $250-$300 for a custom roman shade without the fabric.

I have to say I’m pretty impressed for my first window shade. Now the only question is what to do next.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Farmer's market pizza

A sugar-free, gluten-free, delicious vegetable pizza.
I have to preface this posting by saying that I have been attempting to follow a gluten-free diet for the last week. I am not a person who follows crazy diet trends, but I read the gluten sensitivity symptoms and discovered they are similar to IBS. I was diagnosed with IBS and reflux disease in 2001, and after attempting the medication route (only to have an allergic reaction that nearly scared off my then-boyfriend/now-husband). Since then, I have been able to manage many of my symptoms with better eating habits.

Making an attempt at going gluten-free wasn’t too difficult because we already eat healthy. Rather than not consuming carbs, I knew I needed to find a way to substitute them or this “diet“ would never stick.

I'd love to hear from someone who has tasted the pre-made, gluten-free pizza crust. It looked rubbery and at $6.00 I decided I wasn't going to risk it, so I used this recipe to make my own. I doubled it and rolled the second crust in wax paper and stuck it in the freezer for another day.  I’m thankful I did because this crust is so good – better than any store bought crust I’ve ever had, gluten or not.

I've been making this farmer’s market pizza since last summer – it’s a great way to use all those fresh vegetables in a way that everyone loves (including my toddler).

We like this pizza so much that we make it all winter long substituting corn on the cob for fresh frozen corn and picking up a red pepper and a few asparagus stalks at the grocery store.

8 oz can tomato sauce
1 garlic clove minced or grated using zester
½ t Italian seasoning

6 asparagus stems
½ large red bell pepper
¼ c corn
1 small tomato
¼ red onion

Roast vegetables whole in 2 T olive oil at 425 for 10-15 minutes. When cooled, chop into bite-size pieces.

Top pizza with sauce, ½ c grated mozzerella cheese, the chopped vegetables and then ¼ c cheese (when it melts it helps keep the vegetables on the pizza). Bake 15-20 until cheese is melted and bubbling. Before serving, top with 1 T fresh chopped basil.

© Lake House Effect. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.