Tag Archives: cooking light

Cookies for Passover from The Daily Cookie

the daily cookie

Passover is almost over, but I wanted to share these two amazing desserts that I made for the week for my husband, who observes the custom of not eating leavened products during this time.

Pareve Brownies

Pareve Brownies

The recipes are from The Daily Cookie, written by Anna Ginsburg of Cookie Madness, my favorite cookie blog of all time.

I first met Anna in 2006 at a Cooking Light Reader Recipe Contest finalist cook-off event held in Birmingham, AL where Cooking Light Magazine’s editorial division is located.  I was completely in awe of her. She had just taken the grand prize of a million dollars (!!) in the 42nd Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest! She had made appearances in the Today show, cooked with onstage with Oprah, and was a seasoned veteran of the recipe contesting circuit, which I had just fallen into by fluke. Happily, we were seated at the same table during the Awards Night Dinner, and I got to know her and her wonderful husband, Todd.  While we did not win our categories (I was in Main Dish and she was in Dessert), we were featured in the magazine and our recipes appear in the  2008 Cooking Light Annual Recipes Cookbook (we’re both on pages 96-97!).

More importantly, we became friends and our families have met and gotten to
know each other throughout the years.

When Anna told me about the book she was writing last year during a visit to Brooklyn, I was so excited for her. We bought a copy of The Daily Cookie when it was released by Andrews McMeel Publishing last November.

The Daily Cookie is a cookie compendium of cookie recipes for every day of the year, plus fun facts about holidays and events of each day as well.  When we first got our copy, Jamie and I went through the whole book reading the cookie names and fun facts to each other as bedtime reading.  It is fun to look up special dates and see what that day has to offer.  For example, Jamie’s birthday, June 30th, has a recipe for Kryptonite Macarons (pistachio macarons filled with dark chocolate cream) because it is Superman’s birthday as well!  It also happens to be Meteor Watch Day.

We had a blast going through the whole recipe book and plotting which cookies we would make and learning fun facts about each day of the year.  I can’t imagine what Anna went through to create all 365 recipes let alone testing them and writing them. She’s a cookie goddess, so it makes sense that she did.  She posts a new recipe on her blog every day.

Anna is a meticulous baker and has done countless experiments with ingredients:  using different ratios; different brands; different baking methods; etc.  She has done comparison analyses of different types of cookie recipes on Cookie Madness to determine the best kind of cookie for different cookie characteristics (please check our her blog!) The Daily Cookie is also as thorough, meticulous and organized. It’s truly inspiring and such a joy to read.

In the back of the book there are several indices of the recipes arranged by cookie type, pan-size, batch size, convenience, special diets, makes a great gift, and bake sale favorites, in addition to the common alphabetized index! I just love that. 🙂

flourless peanut butter cookies

For Passover, I made the Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies (September 8— also International Literacy Day; Founding of Saint Augustine, Florida, in 1565; and Scotch tape invented in 1930) as well as the Pareve Brownies (April 7 — also World Health Day). Both are really simple to make and so delicious, they will be made year round in this household!

Poor Denis — the treats were made especially for him, and all the other non-observers in the family gobbled them up with abandon as well.  The Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies recipe is here on Anna’s blog.  A slight difference is that in the book they are sans chopped peanuts and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, but I made them plain without either and they were SOOOO good and so easy to make!  Just five ingredients!

pareven brownies 2

The Pareve Brownies recipe is reprinted below with permission.  If you are a cookie lover like we are or know a cookie lover, please buy this book! It is chock full of great cookie recipes and is a great read as well. The only dilemma is deciding which cookie to make first!

Pareve Brownies
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons matzo cake meal
3/4 cup unsweetened natural style or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon plus an extra pinch of salt
2/3 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1/3 cup pareve or vegan semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325 F and place a rack in the center. Line an
8-inch square metal baking pan with nonstick foil.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in
a large mixing bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the sugar,
eggs, and egg yolk on medium speed for about 2 minutes or until light.
Beat in the vegetable oil, cake meal, cocoa powder, and espresso powder
and continue mixing until smooth. Beat in the salt and walnuts, and
then stir in the chocolate chips. Pour into the prepared pan.

3. Bake the brownies for 28 to 32 minutes, or just until they appear
set. For this recipe, it’s important not to overbake. Let cool
completely in the pan. Grasp the foil, lift from the pan, set on a
cutting board, and cut into sixteen squares.

Baker’s Notes: Espresso powder gives these unleavened brownies a rich
deep flavor. If you can’t find matzo cake meal, put a little regular
matzo or matzo meal in a small coffee grinder and grind it until it is
very fine.



Filed under Cookies

Easy Weeknight Pork Enchilada Casserole

Ooey and gooey, and yummy

Ooey and gooey, and yummy

Imagine this:  It’s a weeknight and you need to make dinner fast.  Instead of take out (which actually takes some time because you have to order and then go pick it up or wait for it to be delivered), make this!

I used leftover slow cooker pork shoulder, but you could easily use shredded rotisserie chicken instead.

I was inspired by this recipe from Cooking Light.  Instead of seasoned ground beef, I used pre-cooked pork, and instead of the enchilada sauce, I got really lazy and used bottled barbecue sauce.  We love Trader Joe’s Bold and Smoky Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce.  It’s tangy and tasty, but not spicy (for the little one).  tj sauce

Saute some onions, and mix in the pork or chicken and the barbecue sauce.  Add a handful of cheese.  Layer mixture in pie pan with flour tortillas. Top with a bit more sauce and cheese and bake until melted.  Easy peasy!

In the pie pan

In the pie pan

Cut into wedges and serve.

ooey gooey up close

Easy Weeknight Pork Enchilada Casserole

Non-stick spray

¼ cup onion, diced

1 teaspoon oil

2 ½ cups leftover pulled pork (see recipe here) or shredded rotisserie chicken

1/3 cup barbecue sauce

4 flour tortillas

1/2 cup grated cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a pie dish with spray. Set aside.
  2. Sauté onion with oil in a large pan until soft.  Add pork and 1/3 cup of the barbecue sauce. Stir together to combine and sauté gently until heated through.  Stir in a handful of the grated cheese, and remove pan from heat and set aside.
  3. Place one tortilla in pie dish.  Spread 1/3 of pork mixture on top. I divide the mixture in the pan first by making a “peace” sign with three equal portions, so I have a clear idea of what 1/3 of the total is.   Cover with another flour tortilla.  Continue to layer with another  1/3 of pork mixture, another tortilla, and last 1/3 of pork mixture.  Cover with last tortilla.
  4. Spread rest of  barbecue sauce on top layer.  Sprinkle with grated cheese.  Bake in oven for about 10 minutes until cheese melts.  Cut into wedges and serve.


Filed under chicken, Dinner, Pork

Low Carb Zucchini Pasta and Creamy Ricotta, Smoked Bacon, and Artichoke Sauce

After our week of eating while traveling — that is, many In-n-Out burgers, diner food, and other processed and greasy vittles, it feels good to be back at home, cooking healthy whole foods again!

I had to make a quick weeknight meal last night, so I made some pasta for the boys, and sauteed zucchini “pasta” for me.  I saw this recipe on the NY Times site, and it sounded intriguing.  It’s just zucchini slices made with a vegetable peeler sauteed in olive oil until al dente and seasoned with salt.  It really makes a wonderful foil for a creamy rich sauce, and I think it’s more flavorful than regular pasta.  I saved the cores of the two zucchini and will steam them and throw them in a soup later in the week.

Cooking the zucchini al dente makes a wonderful alternative to pasta.

I knew I wanted a rich, creamy sauce (I had extra ricotta  on hand), so I made up one inspired by this Cooking Light Alfredo with Bacon recipe.  I altered it by adding the ricotta, nutmeg, a mix of part skim plain mozzarella and whole milk smoky mozzarella to bring out the smokiness of the bacon, and some leftover artichoke hearts I had that needed to be used!

It was a perfect marriage of flavors and my boys loved it (always a good indicator for a recipe I can use in the future!)

Ricotta Artichoke Sauce with Spaghetti -- fettucine would be great too, but none to be found in our pantry at the time!

Pasta with Ricotta Cream Sauce and Bacon

½ lb. pasta (spaghetti or fettucine works well) and 1/2 recipe of zucchini pasta

or 1 lb. pasta or one full recipe of zucchini pasta

kosher salt

2 slices of hickory smoked bacon, chopped

2 teaspoons  olive oil

½ small onion, chopped

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon flour

1 ½ cup milk (whole or 2% would probably be best, but I used skim!)

¾ cup ricotta (5 oz.)

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

¼ cup grated mozzarella (I used a combination of regular and smoky)

2 canned artichoke hearts, chopped (could probably use more, but that’s all I had)

½ teaspoon nutmeg

Freshly crushed black pepper

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Season water with salt and cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve about ¼ cup cooking water and drain pasta.  Or make zucchini pasta.
  2. While pasta is cooking make sauce.  Cook bacon in a large skillet until browned.  Remove to a paper lined plate to drain.
  3. Add a teaspoon or two of olive oil to pan depending on how much bacon grease is left.  I hardly had any so I had to add oil.  Saute chopped onion and garlic until softened.  Sprinkle flour on top and brown quickly in pan.  Then whisk in milk gradually to create a sauce.  Add ricotta and whisk until smooth.  Then add parmesan and mozzarella and artichoke hearts.  Stir to combine.  Season with kosher salt, nutmeg, and pepper to taste.  Simmer over low heat until thickened, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add cooked pasta to skillet and toss to coat.  Add bacon and stir.  Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.


Filed under Dinner, Pasta, Vegetables

Kahlua Chocolate Cream Pie

My recent dilemma:  Hot summer days + loads of work + minimal child care + entertaining guests.

My solution:  Have a grill (i.e. husband does the cooking) and serve a pre-made  dessert that requires minimal stove/oven time on my part.

Since we are chocolate fiends, whenever I make a special dessert, it invariably has chocolate in it (even with the abundance of gorgeous seasonal fruit these days)!   I also still have two large bottles of Kahlua that I got duty free last summer, so I infused this dessert with said liquor.

The Chocolate Kahlua Cream Pie is adapted from a Cooking Light recipe for Rich Chocolate Pudding Pie.  It’s “light” in that the filling is not made with heavy cream and a ton of egg yolks, like a typical custard.  Cornstarch is the thickening agent that gives the milk its pudding consistency.   This pie is fantastic and doesn’t taste light at all.

I changed the original recipe by making a Reduced Fat Oreo cookie crust (I couldn’t find plain chocolate wafers at the store), which is just processed cookies mixed with melted butter, pressed into a pie pan and baked for ten minutes.  Easy peasy!

I also added Kahlua to the filling and dusted the pie with unsweetened cocoa powder and served it with homemade whipped cream also flavored with a bit of Kahlua.

If you love chocolate and Kahlua as much as I do, you will love this pie. 🙂

Kahlua Chocolate Cream Pie

16 Reduced Fat Oreo cookies

4 tablespoons melted butter


¾ cup sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ¾ cups 1% low-fat milk, divided

2 large egg yolks

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

2 tablespoons Kahlua

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon Kahlua

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa

  1. Process Oreos in processor until finely ground.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Drizzle melted butter on top and mix to incorporate.  Pour mixture into pie dish and spread out.  Put a sheet of saran wrap over mixture and press out to edges to form a crust.  Chill for about 10 to 15 minutes while preheating oven to 350.
  2. Bake crust for 10 minutes.  Cool completely.
  3. To prepare filling, combine sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and salt in a large saucepan;  stir with a whisk.  Add half of milk and 2 yolks; stir with a whisk until smooth.  Stir in the remaining milk.  Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Add the chopped chocolate and stir until smooth.  Stir in Kahlua.  Pour filling into prepared crust.   Cover with saran; chill 4 hours until set.
  4. To make topping, whip cream on high in the bowl of a cold stand mixer just before stiff peaks form.  Add sugar and Kahlua and whip until stiff peaks form, being careful not to overwhip.
  5. Just before serving pie, cover with whipped topping and garnish with cocoa powder sifted on top.

Makes about 8-10 servings.


Filed under Desserts

Cooking Light and Caramel Popcorn

Sorry for the long hiatus, but with the holidays, traveling, book events, and a nasty inner ear infection, I’ve been completely distracted!

On a happier note, while doing a book signing at Anderson’s Book Shop in Naperville, my mom found me in this month’s issue of Cooking Light Magazine!

This insert is after page 145 in the December 2010 issue

If you recall, I asked you all to vote for my recipe online when it was a finalist in the 2010 Cooking Light Ultimate Reader Recipe Contest, and boy did you guys deliver!  I won the online vote “by a landslide” and won the contest, and I have all of you to thank for that – so thanks again everybody!!!

We did the photo shoot way back in September and seeing the spread brought back happy memories of the experience.

Photo: Karen Cattan

The Cooking Light marketing staff couldn’t have been more warm and friendly.  I was quite nervous, but they made me feel so comfortable, as if it was normal to be in the spotlight in a studio kitchen with lights and cameras on me – Ok well, as comfortable as was possible in that situation!

This was surreal and felt like I was on a cooking show.

I also got to meet Chef Billy Strynkowski, Executive Chef of Cooking Light, who is completely down to earth and chummy.  My husband who joined us later thought he was “the equipment guy” as he wasn’t in his chef whites.  Ha ha.

Karen Cattan, the photographer and her lighting assistant, Lynn Sawville, did a fantastic job on the pictures.  They made the food look really beautiful, and were able to get shots of me with my eyes open (a rare occurrence when I’m being photographed!)

Photo: Karen Cattan

I made my entire dish during the shoot, while we all chatted and snacked on munchies and had a good time.

Photo: Karen Cattan

The photo shoot was capped off by a fantastic dinner at Marea with the Cooking Light staff and publisher, and the next evening, by a wonderful Supper Club event where Chef Billy demonstrated various cooking techniques while making the dishes we were eating.  I think I gained a couple of pounds those two days eating all the amazing food that was offered!

Then, that weekend, my husband and son and I got treated to a “Weekend Getaway” in Manhattan, a real indulgence— we would never ever stay in a hotel in the city, as we live right across the river.

We stayed two nights at the Hudson Hotel designed by Phillippe Starck.  Jamie loved it: “This is the coolest hotel ever!!”

Check out their bar, which looks like the set from 2001: A Space Odyssey at the very end of the movie.

We completely indulged and ate all our meals out.  Highlights were:

The waffles at Petit Abeille.

A ginormous caramel shake from Shake  Shack.

And an amazing Japanese dinner at Menchenko Tei where we had the pleasure of being seated next to Richard Thomas and his family.  No, I did not say “Good Night, John Boy!” when we left!!

I used to watch The Waltons every week!

It was a perfect New York City experience.  Thank you, Cooking Light for everything.  I’ll always have such wonderful memories of that week in September!!

To end, I leave you with my most recent favorite Cooking Light recipe.  Oh my gosh, this stuff is addictive.  It is awesome (as my son would say).  You must try it for the holidays.  I plan on making a lot to send to family and friends this year.  Enjoy!

Caramel Popcorn

Non-stick spray

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

½  cup light-colored corn syrup

5 1/4 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon molasses

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

12 cups unsalted, unbuttered popped popcorn

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with non stick spray.
  3. Combine sugar, corn syrup, butter and molasses in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Cook 5 minutes, stirring once.
  4. Remove from heat.  Stir in baking soda, salt, and vanilla.
  5. Put popcorn in a large bowl.  Pour syrup over popcorn, stirring to coat.
  6. Spread mixture in one layer on prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven.   Stir to break up large clumps.  Cool for 15 minutes.  Stir again to break up clumps and serve or store in an airtight container for one week.

Yield:  18  2/3 cup servings

Calories 126; Fat 3.6 g;  Iron 0.4mg; Cholesterol 9 mg; calcium 15 mg; carbohydrate 23.9 g; sodium 151 mg; protein 0.7g; fiber 0.8g

From Cooking Light, December 2002

Original Recipe is here.


Filed under Appetizers