Sunday, June 22, 2008

bless these vittles so we can eat!

A sausage is not something to be trifled with. They seem to command center stage wherever they are.

I'll admit to a mild fear of anything sausage related (except with pizza, because come on, if it's smothered in cheese it's got to be good) until I traveled to Munich while on study abroad. Now, this is the place to go for sausage, folks. Even with the carefree, perpetual vacation attitude that accompanies the young while on study abroad, I couldn't extend the same attitude to the realm of the sausage, which runs rampant in Europe. After awhile, I realized I was being a bit silly because after all, those Europeans are still alive and kicking, right?

Still, this was a mighty barrier to cross for an otherwise adventurous girl. I remember the white food car perched right at home on the Munich sidewalk. There were no fancy signs, no music, or any other sensory frills to speak of. I don't speak German and I can't remember how I ordered what I did or what the name of this particular sausage was (the varieties were legion), but somehow I ended up with a piping hot white [yikes!] sausage, cut in chunks and unadorned except for a utilitarian toothpick speared in its side alongside a slop of zingy mustard, all cradled in a stiff red and white paper carton that I could hold with one hand. I felt like I should introduce myself or something, such was the momentousness of the occasion. No one else on that city street could have known what was about to transpire. I remember feeling a little freakish and a little proud of myself all at the same time. But it was still pure grit that made me take the first bite.

And I ate the whole darn thing. I even licked my lips afterward and could have happily gone back for more. Call me converted. Thank you Munich.

Unfortunately, sausages are not well known to be kind to the waistline. Dieters can reserve sausage rites for holidays, binges, or just kiss it off altogether. But that didn't sound like any fun at all. So I was happy to find a chicken sausage that was very flavorful and lacking tons of the fat normally found in the happy sausage, and it wasn't even advertised as a low-fat item. It pays to read lables when on such a hunt. [For those wondering, I got the AmyLu Smoked Andouille Chicken Sausage sold at Costco.] Since sausage is a willing player in almost anything you want to throw together, we thought we'd try pasta this time and tossed in something green and delicious to boot.

Oh, and when eating sausage smiling is required, not to mention licking the old chops.

Riccioli with Sausage
Serves 6 to 8

You can substitute the broccoli and pasta for any like ingredient. As for the pasta, the short, tossable variety works well, especially those with ridges or curves to better capture the sauce. For veggies, you might try zucchini or even spinach, though you may need to alter the amount used. If you choose to use spinach, I would just toss the uncooked leaves in at the same time as the tomato sauce, broth, and nonfat half-and-half since it will wilt just fine with the heat of the other ingredients.

Small amount of olive oil
1 pound riccioli pasta (or penne, rigatoni, etc.), cooked al dente
8 cups broccoli florets, steamed until fork tender
2 medium onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced, or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups low-fat sausage sliced on the bias
3/4 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup nonfat half-and-half
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded parmesan, optional

Drizzle just enough olive oil in the bottom of a frying pan so that the onions won't stick, 1 to 2 teaspoons. Caramelize onions over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally until they are limp, completely tender, and have deepened in color. This takes some time, about 20 to 45 minutes depending on your stove, but it doesn't require much fuss so you can tend to the rest of the dish
while the onions cook. A few minutes before the onions are done, add the garlic. Remove from heat when done.

Meanwhile, spray a frying pan with nonfat cooking spray and over medium high heat quickly sear the sausage (which should be already cooked through) to bring out color and flavor, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Over medium-high heat combine the cooked pasta, cooked broccoli, onion and garlic mixture, and seared sausage. Add the tomato sauce, chicken broth, and nonfat half-and-half, stirring to incorporate and heat through. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve with a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan, if desired.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

on chocolate, Mayans, and cravings



Need we say more?

Well, no. But of course we will.

We owe our thanks to the Mayans for bringing the delightful cacao bean to the world stage. When most of us think of chocolate, we think of the high-fat candy that comes in chip or bar form. But in the form of cocoa powder it can be utilized in the nonfat kitchen with fabulous and skinny results. Diets may come and go, but cravings for chocolate will ever remain. One of life's constants, like a true friend. So, to keep this craving on the friendly side we came up with a versatile and delectable little dish.

Some might call this cake, but to us it has more the feel of a brownie with its heavier, slightly sticky crumb. We hope you enjoy.

Nonfat Chocolate Brownie

This dessert is easy, and we like that. It is wonderful served on a plate with nothing more than a flourish of nonfat Cool Whip to rest on top and provide the creamy taste that pairs so beautifully with chocolate (sprinkle with cocoa or nutmeg for a finishing touch). For variations you can add nuts or dried fruit before baking or sprinkle a bit of either on top before serving. Also, you could break this into chunks and layer with nonfat pudding, whipped topping, and pie filling to create a decadent trifle or individual parfait. And of course, nonfat ice cream piled under, in between or on top is enough to make anyone smile.

2 cups unsweetened apple sauce

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 cup whole wheat flour

½ cup white flour

¾ cup cocoa (not Dutch processed)

1 ½ cups white sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325. Spray one 9x13 or two 8-inch round pans with cooking spray and dust with flour. In a large bowl combine the applesauce, vanilla ,and vinegar and mix well. Mix the dry ingredients together and add to applesauce mixture, stirring until well mixed. Turn into prepared baking dish and bake 35-60 minutes, depending on size of pan. My 9x13 took about 40 minutes, but ovens vary widely. Test the center like you would a regular cake; toothpick inserted in center will come out mostly clean with just a few crumbs. Remove from oven. Cool for five to ten minutes and turn onto cooling rack or allow to cool completely in the baking dish itself. Drizzle with a powdered sugar glaze or dust with dry powdered sugar. Keep covered with plastic wrap until ready to serve.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

the sun will come out

It's the season for baseball games, soccer practices, and end of school activities....

It's the season for anticipation of change, newness, awakenings, and getting your wheels in motion after laying frozen and dormant...not to mention getting off the treadmill and onto an outdoor trail for pete's sake!

It's definitely not the time for long, complicated meal preparation!

One can only make so many frazzled dinner trips to the snack bar over the course of multiple outdoor sports games each week. Popcorn, hot dogs, and red licorice ropes don't do much to help you keep in shape, or keep you feeling very spry for that matter. Wouldn't it be nice to have something that's homemade, prepared without a whole lot of fuss, and can be eaten quickly or transported fairly handily to your sideline spectator's chair? We did this by making pulled barbeque chicken sandwiches. Pack along a bag of fresh cut watermelon cubes, dripping with ripe juice, and you can happily cheer your little sports stars to victory without any more trips to that unfulfilling snack bar. Really, those little snack shacks were only exciting when you were like 7, don't you think?

I'm looking forward to picnics, generous servings of a crunchy, healthy tossed coleslaw, fresh fruit of all kinds, cool popsicles that sharpen and freshen the tongue and help you savor the lingering rays of the sun. Yes, I know that Spring is a fickle season and can grace one day with heavenly warmth only to lash out with wind, falling temperatures, and wisps of snow the next. But it's those blessedly warm days that have been popping in here and there that have got me thinking...and I'll just let you know that I have my sights firmly and optimistically set on the return of warmth.

In this, I am undeterred. Even though we sat blue-lipped on the bleachers at my son's baseball game tonight, inwardly pleading that the minutes would tick-tick quickly by so we could escape to the warmth of the car, I watched another baseball game earlier this week without even a coat! So you see, I have reason to feel encouraged.

What we have in mind this week boasts the all-American flavors of sweet, smoky barbeque sauce, and in our minds it bids a happy welcome to the milder outdoor seasons that will bring a thaw to this stubborn Old Man Winter. So, keep this one handy. It'll be a great standby all through the coming season.

Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
Makes 6 to 8 large sandwiches

Personal tastes as they pertain to specific barbecue sauces are many and varied. Search out your favorite. We happen to love Famous Dave's and Baby Ray's. The addition of liquid smoke to this recipe adds depth in flavor with just a measuring spoon and a little tip of the wrist. While standard hamburger buns are certainly acceptable (checking to make sure they're good for you, of course), try to find good quality bread as we tend to go by the rule that your sandwich gets exponentially better as you improve the quality of bread that is used to make them.

This recipe makes eating on the go or entertaining a snap. You can feel free to add extra condiments as you desire. Some possibilities are spicy mustard, horseradish, pickles, tomatoes, jalapenos, diced onions, etc. These are not required, however, since these sandwiches are delectable just as they are, especially if your transporting the meal.

This recipe pairs beautifully with picnic-type salads. And we love recipes like this with no added fat that don't sacrifice an ounce of flavor - or eating enjoyment for that matter!

4 large chicken boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 1/2 c BBQ sauce or to cover

1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

Salt and pepper, optional

1/2 c nonfat mayonnaise

1 T BBQ sauce

6 to 8 large good-quality hamburger buns, or rolls of similar size

In a medium mixing bowl combine the barbeque sauce and liquid smoke. In a large crockpot add chicken breasts and pour barbeque sauce mixture over. Cover crockpot and set on high for 3 hours or low for 6 hours. (Because crockpots vary in cooking temperature, it is a good idea to check the chicken early to assess doneness as they may be cooked and ready earlier than these times given.) Remove chicken from crock pot onto a cutting board (leaving barbeque sauce and cooking juices in pot) and shred each piece using two forks in a pulling motion. Return shredded chicken to the crockpot and stir to mix in with cooked barbeque sauce. If it isn't moist enough you can add a little more barbeque sauce and salt and pepper if needed.

In a small mixing bowl combine the mayonnaise and barbeque sauce thoroughly and set aside.

You may choose to toast the buns by setting them under the broiler briefly (on a layer of foil or on a cookie sheet) until lightly browned. Otherwise, just split the buns in half, slather on some dressing and put a generous scoop of chicken in the center of the bottom half, before topping with other half of bun. Repeat with the rest of the bread. Serve while warm.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

down the rabbit hole

"Oh dear, oh dear. I shall be late!" So said the rabbit in the slightly psychedelic tale of Alice and Wonderland. Some things are best not attempted on days when we take a tumble down the rabbit hole, so to speak.

I am a confessed hurrier - not even sure if that is a word. I'll also speak for Alice (not the Wonderland Alice) in telling you that she is one of these as well. Most of the time this is quite handy. You can get lots of things done, and you become very adept at discovering shortcuts. I get a little tinge of satisfaction in speeding right along whether it be getting all the groceries in from the car in one load or disregarding guidelines in a recipe so it will be done sooner. You also get used to juggling various things at once, and most of the time things work out just fine, great even.

But there's a lesson I've learned in my life as a hurrier, sometimes you have to just slow down and take the time to let the bread dough rise. Now, you can take this literally or as a grand life metaphor. But for our purposes today, feel free to just take it literally. Plan ahead for a little time, heck, even knead the dough by hand (it's actually a pretty good arm workout!). Embrace the opportunity to not optimize your minutes and you might enjoy the process as much as the actual result.

Yes, we're bringing bread to the table today. This recipe has its origins in Switzerland, passed down through a friend's family. She speaks of how her grandmother looked forward to this bread because of the luxury of white flour. We tweaked the recipe in order to lower the fat content yet retain the moist weight of good homemade bread. Now, we know that whole grains are very important for better health. We also know that it's nice to have other options now and then. This one's a keeper.

Swiss White Bread

When we first had this bread it was baked in a French bread pan which helps the bread keep its form. If you don't have one of these pans, you can simply bake it on a good quality cookie sheet. The bread will expand outward to a greater degree when baked on a cookie sheet - both are just fine.

This bread is delectable in almost any form. It makes heavenly sandwiches, where the bread is actually a noticeable part of the sandwich. Make toast with this bread and you'll have a crusty exterior with a pleasing bite and a chewy, soft interior. We made French toast with it this morning and it keeps it's heft through the soaking and the grilling. Use leftovers that have been in the pantry for a couple days to make a healthier bread pudding using egg substitute and nonfat milk. You can even use the dough to make cinnamon rolls, going sparingly with any added fat (use butter substitute to reduce high cholesterol worries) before rolling up.

2 packages (4 ½ teaspoons) yeast
2 ½ cups lukewarm water
¾ cup nonfat dry milk
1/3 cup sugar
7-8 cups white flour
½ cup egg substitute
1 ½ tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ c mashed potatoes (reconstituted potatoes work fine and are much less fuss)
1 egg white
1 tablespoon skim milk
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, optional

In a large mixer, mix the yeast, water, dry milk, and sugar. Mix in 1 ½ cups flour and let stand until spongy, about 7 to 8 minutes. Mix in the egg substitute, salt, oil, and mashed potatoes well incorporated. Gradually add the remaining flour (spooned into measuring cup and leveled with a knife), enough to make a soft, dough that will be just a tad sticky. Knead for 10 to 15 minutes until smooth and elastic. Let rise until doubled in size. Punch down and divide into 2 equal portions. Divide each portion into equal thirds, shaping each into a long rope. Place the ropes parallel to each other and pinch all three together at one end. Using the pinched end as a base, begin to braid the ropes together and finish by pinching the opposite ends of the three ropes together at the end of the braid. In a small mixing bowl whisk the egg white and milk together; brush on the loaves using a pastry brush. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using. Place on a sprayed baking sheet and let rise until double in bulk. Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Makes two very large loaves, approximately 40 servings.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Ode to Vinaigrettes

Hello, is anybody there? We hope so, and we've been gone so long we're ringing the old metal dinner bell extra loud to bring you on back. So gather 'round the table once again, because we're hungry.

We have an absolutely delicious bread recipe that we're itching to float on through the wires to your awaiting table, but you'll have to wait since we made a different batch of something especially fine that is bumping the bread to a future post - possibly next week so don't despair.

There's a genius lurking in the vast, flavorful, and rich French cuisine that has become a fast friend. We like it so much we're trying to keep from drizzling it on pretty much anything that passes from the skillet to our awaiting mouths. But let me tell you, lately this almost requires tying the hands behind the back: O, Vinaigrette, we love thee so.

If you're anything like us vinaigrettes are an oft-chosen dressing for green salad, absolutely delicious to be sure. But the French have given Vinaigrette her due and allowed her to splash over the bean, the loaf, and many a varied veggie. This really is a cause to celebrate, we promise. You'll be amazed at the spark of tart magic that is created when it's doused on asparagus or the humble chickpea. Friends, this is when the show begins I tell you.

So, we happily let Vinaigrette wrap her slick and amazing little arms around an army of lentils and, voila, this was something blessed. Our two-year-0ld daughter/granddaughter ate half of Alice's serving for lunch today. What can we say? She is part French.

French Lentils with Vinaigrette
Serves 6.

A quick note on lentils that will make you even more eager to serve them up: they are absolutely loaded with protein. Classified as a veggie, they are second only to the soybean in this protein category. Keep the added fats low and toss them with some veggies for fare that is beguilingly healthy and a versatile, unique, and surprisingly pretty side dish. Then pop them in the microwave the next day to take off the chill and they make a simply munchable main player for lunch.

1 cup lentils, sorted and rinsed
3 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp salt, divided
2 medium carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 shallot clove, finely chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
Sea salt, for serving

In a medium saucepan, bring the lentils, water, and bay leaf to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until almost tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in ¼ teaspoon salt and then simmer, covered, for another 4 to 5 minutes, until tender but not falling apart.

While the lentils simmer, warm a large skillet over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, and 1/8 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just softened, about 7 to 9 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, 4 tablespoons vinegar, mustard, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt. Briskly whisk in the olive oil.

When the lentils are ready, drain them and pick out the bay leaf. Pour them into the skillet with the vegetables and toss with the vinaigrette and parsley. Cook over low heat, stirring gently, until heated through. Stir in a splash of red wine vinegar, if desired, and serve warm, with sea salt for sprinkling.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


(Okay, if your appetite doesn't run to seafood, you can enjoy this week's offering on chicken.)

The Spring salmon run is almost here in the Northwest! Am I a fanatic fisherwoman? Well, no, but my husband and son are, and when they start hyping up for the salmon run, I celebrate in my own way by getting my creative juices running toward some new twists for enjoying their catch.

Mind you, I can have a wonderful time along with my men out on the boat, anticipating that rush when the hit comes; and yes, I have caught a few beauties of my own, but my addiction very definitely includes the part after they're cleaned, filleted and delivered to the kitchen. Last week, I started practicing on a beautiful fillet of Copper River Sockeye salmon (caught at the local fish counter) and received a response from my fellow diners that was enthusiastic enough to prompt us to share it with all of you.

My personal preference in preparation, is one that doesn't smother the delicate deliciousness of the fish itself, but is simple and compliments the natural goodness that is already there. I think the smoky flavor of this recipe sets it apart from some of the other favorites I have traditionally used for our table. While I used this basting marinade on salmon, I'm sure it would be equally good on halibut or whatever your favorite might be (yes, even chicken!). It can be used when grilling, baking, etc. So, get ready and start looking for good buys on yummy, healthy fresh fish, or encourage your fisherman to get his gear and start indulging the hunter/gatherer instinct so you can fire up your grill or oven for a dining delight.

Smokey Basting Marinade for Salmon
Makes 4 servings

It is important to remember that when baking or grilling fish, overbaking will produce a drier, less tender result, so keep a careful watch to avoid this.

Juice of one lemon (about ¼ cup)

2 tsp. Olive oil

¼ tsp dried dill weed

2 tsp spicy brown or Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ tsp coarsely ground pepper

3/4 tsp seasoning salt (my favorite is Johnny's Seasoning)

½ tsp sea salt

¼ tsp. liquid smoke

Whisk or blend all ingredients together. Set aside one tablespoon of the marinade. You can adjust the salt before brushing the fish, but remember, especially if grilling, that a lot of the marinade will roll off with the juices in the cooking process and justifies a little more of the saltiness than if it were merely a dressing. (Check to stir it well to make sure that salt hasn't settled to the bottom of the mixing dish, which would make it too salty with the final basting.)Place 4 servings of salmon or other fish on a plate or in a baking dish and brush (or spoon on) one side generously with the marinade. Bake or grill until about half done; turn carefully and baste the other side. If there is skin on the under side, remove the skin after turning and before basting. Continue baking until done to your liking. Apply the reserved marinade before serving with a clean brush or spoon. ENJOY!

Monday, March 3, 2008

35,000 Feet and!

Let me give you a little behind the scenes peek at writing a food blog: We (Alice and Janelle) get to participate in what has now become a weekly ritual. This is when we get to sit down together [which is more accurately descibed as a long-distance telephone conversation]; then we get to tuck a napkin around our necks, sit down at the table with knife and fork at the ready, and decide what's on the menu, the weekly blog menu. There are some out there who wouldn't think much of this. But from our perspective this is what we call fun. Loads of fun. We hum and haw over what to spotlight next. How about a salad? A main dish? Slippery noodles or something soupy? Bread, appetizer, anyone? Food nerds is what we are. I'm comfortable with that. I'm willing to bet there are more than a few who would gladly join us at this table. Please do.

For every recipe that makes its way onto the blogging superhighway there are oodles that are waving their little paper hands and begging for the chance to step forward and take a bow. We just tell them to please be patient. We really are hard at work on the book and will give them their due as soon as we can. Until then, we continue our weekly appointment sometimes with an old favorite, sometimes with an entirely new creation - whatever strikes our fancy or hits us square in the belly at the moment. Yeah, that's sounds about right.

This week we'll start our introduction by talking about the merits of falling, as in, falling into a bowl of whipped cream or falling into the clouds. Since I was a kid the clouds outside an airplane window, so close you feel like you could reach out and squeeze them, prompted a daydream that I really could sneak out of my seat, take a merry little step outside, and lo and behold fall dreamily onto a cloud, bopping here and there in my vast white world and greeting other star-eyed daydreamers. I didn't envision falling through this cloud, mind you, that wouldn't be any sort of daydream to remember. No, these clouds were buoyant and pillowy, beckoning and friendly.

These many years later I've found a daydream I could actually fall through and proceed to giggle all the way to the end. So, picture this: fall [needn't be from an airplane] into a dish of whipped cream, followed by thick creamy pudding, bumping softly against anchors of golden banana here and there on the way down (this is a leisurely fall, so no bumps or scrapes to be had), and landing with a cinnamon-and-sugar thud onto a snickerdoodle landing strip. There is no need to keep arms and legs inside at all times. In fact, flail, paddle, heck, do the hokey pokey as you proceed ever downward, and don't forget to lick your fingers before you come to a full and complete stop.

Banana Cream with a Soft Snickerdoodle Crust
[the jury is still out on what to name this - suggestions welcome!]
Makes 12 generous servings.

This dessert can be cut in half and assembled in an 8 x 8 inch baking dish for a smaller crowd.

Cookie layer:

2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c butter substitute, room temperature (Benecol, Smart Balance, etc.)
1/2 c sugar, plus 1 T
6 T egg substitute
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the bottom of the 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Mix flour, baking soda, and salt together in bowl. In separate bowl, mix butter substitute, ½ cup of the sugar, egg substitute, and vanilla until well combined; pour into flour mixture and mix thoroughly. Press evenly into bottom of baking dish. Toss the cinnamon and remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar together and sprinkle evenly over dough. Bake in center rack of oven for 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Crust can be made a day ahead and covered until ready to use if desired.

Pudding Layer:

1 8-oz pkg nonfat cream cheese, softened
2 cups nonfat milk
2 cups nonfat half and half
2 large boxes instant vanilla pudding
2 to 3 bananas, sliced
1 8-oz tub nonfat whipped topping

At serving time you can garnish this with any or all of the following: Additional banana slices, 1/2 cup chopped nuts, or nonfat caramel ice cream topping drizzled over top.

In a mixing bowl combine the pudding mix and fat-free half and half. Beat for two minutes until mixture starts to thicken. Allow to sit for five minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate mixing bowl beat cream cheese until smooth. With an electric mixer or a whisk add the pudding mixture to the cream cheese in three additions, mixing vigorously after each so no lumps remain. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble.

Assembly: Because bananas have a tendency to go brown after being peeled, this is best served within two to three hours of assembling. However, if you happen to have some left over the next day, it is still quite delicious.

Spread about one third of the pudding mixture over the cooled crust. Cover with sliced bananas and then spread with remaining pudding. Spread all of the whipped topping over the top, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate till ready to serve. Prior to serving, you may choose garnish as described above.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Peaches and Craftiness

In our home our brother/son didn't like his veggies as a baby. While this may be normal (because seriously, have you ever tried some of those baby food vegetables?) there are surely myriad mother-tested ways of getting healthy foods into baby bellies. The successful method in our house was to load up the baby spoon with several beguiling hunks of canned peaches, then cram the nooks and crannies with green peas, well out of view, of course. If there was even a hint of green seen on the in-coming bite, the hatch would close at once, no more flights admitted - if you know what I mean. Craftiness became the supreme goal.

Oh, the power of the mind. I mean, couldn't that little baby tell that there were some impostors swimming around in his mouth as chewed on those "peaches?" Evidently not, because if he thought he only had peaches on that spoon, then he'd accept the whole bite, no puckering, spitting, gagging, or hollering. Packaging and branding are what it's all about, I tell you.

So, in light of that life lesson, we suggest you tell your kids that the name of the following recipe is Worms and Eyeballs. Our kids/grandkids like it so much that such craftiness wasn't needed, but it might help bump up enthusiasm and give the kids something to talk about while they gobble it down.

For the rest of you, we'll tell you it's a delightful pasta with a peanut sauce that is flavored with lime and cilantro, lots of julienned fresh veggies, and turkey meatballs flavored with a hint of fresh ginger and sesame to top it off. The colors and flavors are vibrant and catch you off guard since it is a wildly different meal than a regular plate of spaghetti and meatballs. And it looks so pretty you just feel good while you enjoy every last bite.

Spicy Peanut Sesame Noodles
Serves 4 to 6
We like trying lots of different vegetables with this since it successfully pairs with so many. You can use any mix of the following in addition to, or in place of, the carrots and cucumbers for a total amount of 3 cups:
  • Julienned fresh snow peas
  • Finely chopped napa cabbage
  • Julienned zucchini
  • Thinly sliced celery
  • Thinly sliced red, green or yellow sweet pepper
1 lb thin spaghetti
1 cup natural creamy peanut butter (just peanuts, no partially hydogenated veg. fats)
(Skippy makes a good one that doesn't require stirring all that accumulated oil on top.)
1 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar (or plain vinegar with 1 tsp sugar)
2 - 4 T sugar depending on preference
2 tsp minced garlic
1 and 1/2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 and 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
Red pepper to taste - we start with about 1/8 tsp and add more depending on who's eating
Juice from one half lime, plus more before serving
1 cup green onions, sliced lengthwise, including greens. Reserve 2 Tbsp for garnish
2 large carrots, julienned or coarsely grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 c cucumber, halved, seeded and sliced
2 Tbs toasted or black sesame seeds or 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
Cook pasta al dente, drain, and rinse. In a bowl whisk peanut butter, water, soy sauce and vinegar until smooth. Stir in garlic, ginger, sesame oil and red pepper flakes. In a large bowl toss hot pasta with peanut sauce, carrots, onions, sliced cucumber and any of the additional vegetables you may wish to add. After tossing, sprinkle with reserved chopped green onion and sesame seeds or chopped peanuts. Squeeze a little more lime juice over the top of the noodles just prior to serving. Can be served hot or at room temperature--by itself or with the meatballs or some grilled chicken on the side. If the sauce is too thick, you can thin it down with a few spoonsful of water and a dash of soy sauce.

Gingered Asian Meatballs
1 lb ground turkey breast
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp mashed garlic
1 tsp fresh grated ginger (or 3/4 tsp ground dry ginger)
1/4 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup fine bread crumbs ( I prefer panko crumbs)
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions, including greens, plus 2 Tbs. for garnish
Teriyaki Sauce (You can make the recipe below or use a commercially prepared one. We like Yoshida's.)
In a mixing bowl combine ground turkey, soy sauce, water, garlic, ginger and egg substitute. Stir to blend well. Add all remaining ingredients except 2 tablespoons of green onion. Mix until well blended. Make balls about the size of large walnuts (we use a cookie dough scoop).
Arrange meatballs in a single layer in a large, rimmed baking sheet that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray, and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until done through. If the meatballs are right out of the refrigerator, they may require a few more minutes in the oven. Being pouoltry, they need to be done all the way through, but overcooking can dry them out, so be sure to test them. To serve, drizzle with teriyaki sauce and sprinkle with the remaining chopped green onions. These can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen until ready to bake.
Teriyaki Sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. corn starch
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp minced garlic (optional)
1/4 cup water or cooking sherry
Combine sugar and corn starch in a small pan. Gradually add soy sauce and stir to blend. Add all remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat till mixture boils and thickens.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Reinvention. Isn’t that the stuff of resolutions, remodels, and makeovers? It sure comes in handy. Washing the slate clean, trying something new, improving, as it were, on the things that came before. Snakes get to shed their skin (although that’s always seemed a little creepy – you know, the part that's left over – but the bright new exterior must feel like spring to the little snake). Trees get to lose their leaves and sprout bright new miracles year after year. And each night gives way to a new sun. I give a thumbs up to the general idea. It’s everywhere you look. It’s the energy that helps us look up from our present into the possibility of what might come next. The idea of creating something new from the same old heap of parts.

One night I was mulling over what to have for dinner. Ahhh! Having given myself much too little time to fix something fussy, my list of possibilities narrowed. I mentally flipped through memories of what my mom used to make for us, hoping to hit on something that hadn’t crossed our table in awhile. I remembered loving my mom’s tortilla soup. There are many versions of this idea that I’ve seen through the years, but my mom’s was encouragingly easy and quick to prepare (you could even use canned chicken if things got a little dicey for time) and really delish. However, I have a picky eater (translate: child) in my family, so my dinner idea came to a screeching halt when I realized that I would be adding fresh diced tomatoes and green onions (along with chips and cheese) on top of the meat and broth mixture. It’s hard to believe that he won’t abide those sweet, juicy, red tomatoes, but they’re a surefire way to bring on the gag reflex something fierce. And I wanted a peaceful dinner. So, with memories of the tortilla soup from my childhood, I began a very hurried quest to create a tortilla soup that would be a hearty meal in a bowl, no additions (bright red fresh ones, specifically) required to make it filling and well rounded. And so I came up with something new, you might even call it a new creation from the same old heap of parts. Tortilla soup reinvented; as such, it has earned a new name. And rightly so.

It begins with a base of chicken broth paired with a hint of roasted tomato for added flavor complexity (this is so easily done and merely requires slicing the tomatoes, putting them in a baking dish, dousing them with salt and pepper and letting them sweat it out in the heat of the oven all by themselves while you go paint your toenails or something). A tumble of ingredients follows that are old hats in the tortilla soup arena and were just itching for a swim in something delightfully new: chicken (fork shredded), corn, green chiles to name a few. Cornmeal and rice were also begging to be invited to the party, and since they wore the right outfits and brought party favors to boot, we just couldn't say no. They really became the subtle stars of the show. The cornmeal thickens the brew and changes it from a mere broth; and rice adds heartiness and fills bellies. And we like that.

Oh, how we love the taste of corn in this soup! But since traditional corn chips don't fit the bill for our purposes, we looked into our bag of reinventions for a little something else to pile in with the cornmeal. We grilled some corn tortillas so that they gave up their crumbly natures and became pleasingly pliable, wholesome, homey, and rustic - a beautiful, tasty, and artful garnish.

And lastly, for those who really do appreciate the tomato for what it is, you can choose to top this with a beautiful pico de gallo that's been ramped up with the kick of a Serrano pepper (the pepper can be omitted if you don't like the spiciness, and so can the pico de gallo for that matter). But most adults (and some kids!) will slurp up every last nub of pico found in their bowls. It's not to be missed, truly. Here's to happy, hearty, healthy slurping for the whole family.

Rustic Southwestern Corn Soup with Spicy Pico de Gallo

Serves about 8
By preparing the rice, chicken, and tomatoes in advance, this soup is a cinch to throw in a pot and have ready for the table very quickly. On those busy days we know that really comes in handy, so do the prep the night before and you can face dinner with a clear head and no worries the next day. You can also freeze the left over soup (without the tortillas or pico de gallo) and you'll have a ready meal when you need it.

You can roast the tomatoes in a 8 x 8 glass baking dish in a 375 degree oven for about 50 minutes until the skins wrinkle and insides of tomatoes are soft. When they've cooled enough to handle, you can pull at the peels and they slip right off.

Right before serving, the corn tortillas can be set on a hot griddle or frying pan for one minute on each side, until they become soft and eatable - tear into rough strips or pieces for garnishing. Plan on about 1/2 to 1 tortilla per person served.
While a little extra time spent on ingredients almost always means a little better taste, we know that you guys get busy out there! So, we've added some quick substitutions that can be used when you're in a pinch, if needed.

1 small onion, diced
2 tsp chopped garlic
2 c diced carrots
3 stalks celery, chopped (can substitute 1 tsp celery seed)
1 1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chili powder
12 c chicken broth
1 4-oz can diced green chiles
1 15 1/4-oz can corn, drained (or the equivalent amount fresh or frozen)
3 Roma tomatoes, roasted, peeled, and pureed in food processor or blender (can use 14 1/2-oz can diced tomatoes and run through the blender)
½ c cornmeal
2 c cooked, seasoned and shredded chicken (can use two 12 1/2-oz cans, undrained, of chicken in a pinch, like you get at Costco)
2 c cooked rice
Juice of half a lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Corn tortillas
Nonfat sour cream, optional garnish

In large pot, coat with nonstick spray and sauté over medium-high heat: onion, garlic, carrots, and celery for about 5 minutes, until colors are vibrant and vegetables begin to soften. Add cumin and chili powder and continue sautéing for another minute or so. Add broth, chiles, corn, and tomatoes. Allow to cook on medium-high heat for about 15 minutes (until it begins to boil). Add cornmeal while whisking (to avoid clumping) and leave over medium heat until the cornmeal is cooked, about 15 minutes or so, stirring frequently. Add chicken and rice and heat through; squeeze in the lime juice and stir. Serve hot with torn grilled corn tortillas and the optional (but really tasty, so please don't leave it out) pico de gallo, and maybe a spoonful of fat-free sour cream.

Spicy Pico de Gallo
Makes a scant 1 1/2 cups

4-5 large plum tomatoes, chopped
3 T finely chopped onion
½ Serrano pepper, minced (optional, if you don’t like spiciness)
2 T finely chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper
Place the tomatoes in a sieve and allow to drain for 5 minutes. Place in bowl and toss with all other ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Keep it delicious

Life is good. Have you ever seen those t-shirts and hats emblazoned with this little message? When someone wearing one of these walks by me, I have to take a mental step back and re-adjust - confess that, yeah, I guess it is. I'm just not used to seeing public declarations that are so unabashedly optimistic. It's nice. Like someone out there knows that we need a little reminder now and then. Even if there are some bad times here and there (and there are), it's nice to take a minute or two during the day and think about something good in your life. Some days this might seem harder than others, when you have to stretch that power of thought just a little farther to find it, but most of the time it's there. Life is definitely good. On a day when you tuck into a lunch of potato and rosemary pizza with a lazy sweep of olive oil you might not need to search any further to drive that sentiment home.

It starts with a delicious and easy recipe for pizza dough - now don't be frightened away, this one can be done entirely in your mixer (and by hand if you don't have one) and pretty soon you're pulling pizza out of the oven. Life is also good when you can eat pizza that tastes awesome and actually doesn't have one speck of cheese in the recipe. [The dough is happy to hold anything you desire, so if you're in the mood for cheese and dietary restrictions don't rule it out, then by all means make something that's all your own, and make it fabulous.]

Some of you may have never tried pizza like this, and so we hope you take the chance for a detour from the traditional red sauce and mozzarella; we think you'll really like it. We first had this in Italy, intrigued because it was so different from any notion of pizza we'd had before. And as they say, when in Rome....we just couldn't not try it! The flavors are straightforward and uncomplicated with no distractions from the smooth, mellow, comforting flavors. A simply beautiful combination. The dough is soft with a gentle chew, a perfect bed for tender potatoes, a sprinkling of fragrant fresh rosemary, the full-bodied mince of garlic, and a softening brush of golden olive oil to help everything settle in and get comfortable together. We like to pair this with a green salad that's been dressed with a light splash of red wine vinaigrette. Yes, life is good - keep it delicious.

Potato and Fresh Rosemary Pizza

One pizza serves 3 to 4 people

2 1/2 c lukewarm water
2 T sugar
2 T yeast
1 T salt
6 c flour (spooned into the measuring cup and leveled with a knife for accurate measuring)
1 t olive oil
Salt (Kosher or coarse is recommended if you have it)

In mixer (or large bowl if you don't have a mixer) combine the water, sugar and yeast. Allow to sit and proof for about 10 minutes. It will look foamy and have increased in volume. Add the salt and 3 cups of the flour and combine thoroughly with the beater attachment. Change to the dough hook attachment and add the remaining three cups of flour. Process in the mixer until well combined. Allow the dough to rest for ten minutes and beat it down. Repeat this process five more times for a total elapsed time of 60 minutes.

Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and divide into four equal parts. Take one of the sections of dough and roll it out into the desired shape with a roughly 1/3-inch to 1/4-inch thickness - otherwise the finished result will be too thick and pillowy. Lay the dough on a sprayed cookie sheet or pizza stone and pour the teaspoon of olive oil over it, brushing it over the entire surface with a pastry brush or fingertips. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Place potato mixture (recipe follows) on the surface of the pizza and bake in a 425 degree oven for 15 to 18 minutes on the bottom rack, or until the potatoes begin to brown lightly around the edges. [You can use all or part of this potato mixture on one pizza, according to your taste. Just make additional potato mixture if you need more.]

Potato Mixture:
Makes enough for 1 to 2 pizzas, depending on how closely you lay out your potatoes

2 lb waxy potatoes, cooked and peeled, red, white, or Yukon Golds [you can use basic baking potatoes if that's all you have on hand, they just won't retain their shape or texture as well]
2 t chopped fresh rosemary (you can use 1 tsp dried if you can't get fresh, but once you've tried fresh you'll agree that the taste is out of this world)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t salt
Fresh ground pepper
1T olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the potatoes for 35 to 40 minutes until they just barely give (not completely done). Peel the potatoes. Slice potatoes very thinly (1/8-inch thick) and place in bowl ; add the rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss gently with olive oil to coat.

Red Sauce (for those who are also making some traditional pizza)

1 15-oz can good quality tomato sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
1 T chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp coarse salt, if needed

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Spoon onto pizza in desired amount.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Rites, Valentines, and 2008

January starts off with the bang and fizz of parties and gatherings still bubbling up after being catapulted across the threshhold of a new year. Then there comes a flurry of activity as we prepare and plan for just how to fill the 365 new days of this new year, resolutions flying higgledy-piggledy everywhere. I just duck and cover. Too much talking and prattle and planning. Huh-uh. I like to start off slow, propel gently into the new year, get to know Mr. 2008 before I impose all my rules and regulations on him. I was very comfortable with Mr. 2007; we'd grown quite close and celebrated much together but it was time to bid farewell ready or not. I've decided Mr. '08 is fairly nice so far, although he's fascinated with snow and I am not. Well, first things first I have to teach this new guy a thing or two, establish some ground rules. I think your Mr. 2008 would agree. So this weekend February rolled in with a soft bounce and I was ready.

Mr. 2008, I would like to begin our time together by teaching you about the importance of the sugar cookie.

There are some things that equate the very celebration of a holiday. You know what I'm talking about, when one thing immediately brings to mind the other? In the very anticipation, preparation, and assembly you are building something much bigger. For me, this phenomenon presents itself on most holidays, especially Christmas. Preparing Christmas Eve dinner is as much about the preparation, the experience of cooking and being together, as the meal itself...maybe more. You might call it the rite of the holiday.

Now there just doesn't come a Valentine's Day that I don't get a deep-down, bottom of the belly tug for soft sugar cookies, more so than any other time of year (hmmm, Halloween takes a close second). I shy away from most roll-out cookies any other time - too much fuss. But come February these babies are one of those rites I was talking about.

When you mix the flour and sugar in the bowl, it's part of the celebration. When you roll them out, it's part of the celebration. When they dive happily into the warm frosting, it's part of the celebration. When precious little hands excitedly cover their every square millimeter with sugary candy, yup, part of the celebration. And eating them, well, this is the grand culmination, an important part of the celebration, but still only a part. I really love a yummy box of chocolates, but if it came down to a choice between that and my long-standing, memory-building cookie tradition? I bet you can guess which one I'd choose.

We couldn't imagine the thought of anyone missing out! Diets and other bad guys stand clear because we're teaching Mr. 2008 that the Valentine sugar cookie is here to stay.

Sugar Cookies with Fondant Glaze
Makes approximately 2 dozen three-inch cookies

These cookies are soft and utterly eatable. We girls all think they're even better than the butter and egg laden traditional sugar cookie. And you'll just have to believe us until you can see for yourself, so rev up your mixing bowl 'cuz something darn good is coming your way.

These are made with a butter substitute (we've successfully tried regular Benecol and Smart Balance, but not the light versions) and egg substitute (readily found in most supermarkets, usually right by the eggs). Just like regular butter, butter substitutes have fat in them, though of the heart-healthy variety, so it is still a good idea not to eat this by the spoonful! Egg substitutes are basically pasturized egg whites, but a little easier to cook with since you just pour them. If you desire, you can use the same measurement of egg white, obtained the old fashioned way by cracking the egg open and disposing of the yolk.

1 1/2 c powdered sugar, carefully spooned into measuring cup and leveled with a knife

1/2 c butter substitute

1/4 c egg substitute or egg white

1 t almond extract

1/2 t vanilla extract

2 1/2 c flour, carefully spooned into measuring cup and leveled with a knife

1 t baking soda

1 t cream of tartar

1/2 t salt

Mix the powdered sugar, butter substitute, egg substitute, and extracts together. Add the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt and mix until incorporated. Chill dough for 2 hours. Heat oven to 375. Roll dough to about 1/3 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Place on lightly sprayed cookie sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes, depending on your oven. Cookies should not start to brown. It's important not to overbake; cookies will feel set but not firm leaving a very slight indent from fingertip. May be helpful to do a test run with with a scrap before running a whole batch through.

Fondant Glaze

2 lb powdered sugar (they come in 2 lb bags at the store)
½ c water
½ c light corn syrup
1 t almond extract
½ t vanilla (you can play around with the flavorings, making sure to keep them to 1 1/2 t)

Combine all ingredients in top of a double boiler (can be created by settling a glass mixing bowl into the top of a pot filled with water, making sure that the bowl doesn't touch the bottom of the pot). Heat the mixture in the double boiler just to lukewarm. Remove the double boiler from the burner, but keep the mixing bowl immersed in the hot water to keep mixture thin. Add a drop or two of food coloring as desired. As you spend time frosting the cookies it may be necessary to add hot water, a few drops at a time, to maintain the consistency that you want. Spread on quickly with a pastry brush or just grasp the cookie by the outer edges, turn over, and dunk the entire face in the glaze. Suspend momentarily above the pot so the excess can drip off and then place on cooling rack to set (I use this method and it is lightning fast, if a little messy for the fingertips).

Thursday, January 31, 2008

And the Salad Just Couldn't Be Held Back

Ahhhh, we just couldn't help ourselves. We're too excited, and one recipe for our debut offering just wasn't enough. Plus, given that this is one of the sweet months of the year, we'll be serving up yet another treat before Valentine's Day in an upcoming post. Now, we can't just keep dishing out desserts one after the other, can we? Or maybe that's what February should be all about? Well, we think we need to squeeze in a little leafy goodness to round things out a bit, sort of make a meal of things.

So, we'll get on with it and introduce one of our favorite little peformers. It fits the bill for casual or formal gatherings. It loves the opportunity to steal the show and fill the plate with all of its contents and counterparts where it can shine and be applauded, appreciated, and smiled at while bumped up against a piece of crusty bread. But, when in need, it can be humbled to take up only part of a plate and play a delightful, colorful, and vibrant second fiddle to a main dish.

Spinach and Orzo Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Serves 4 as an entree salad or 6 as a side

There is some fat content in a portion of our recipes, and you'll notice that these are always of the heart-healthy variety, i.e., canola and olive oils, butter substitutes like Smart Balance and Benecol, healthy nuts, etc. We try to use less of these ingredients where possible, a bit like a sliding scale, but they are effective in rounding out taste, presentation, garnishing and overall enjoyment. As you gain experience with this type of cooking, you will become more comfortable and familiar with your own tastes and needs and able to start adjusting these items on your own when you want to!

We assemble the salad ingredients more according to taste than to actual measure, given that some like more veggies and some like more pasta. Feel free to experiment with your tastes. The following is a great guide to get you started. When the salad is to be served for a main dish we add meat or fish, but for an accompaniment to a main dish we leave the meat out.
Oh, so many choices. Just make sure you fill your belly. I mean, really, let's not forget what's most important now!

3 c cooked orzo pasta, follow package directions
3 c coarsely chopped spinach
1/3 c soft dry-packed sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 c fresh diced tomatoes
4 green onions, finely sliced
1/2 c pinenuts
Parmesan cheese, shaved, if your dietary needs allow
3 grilled and sliced seasoned chicken breasts ~ optional [we suggest brushing very lightly with olive oil, a little sprinkle of lemon juice, garlic, onion powder, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper - delicious!]

Put sundried tomatoes in small bowl of warm water to further soften for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the water off and toss the tomatoes, with all other ingredients together in large salad bowl, reserving parmesan. Add desired amount of dressing just prior to serving, adjust salt and pepper, toss, and garnish with parmesan if using.

Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing
Makes about 3/4 cup dressing

You can choose to go heavier or lighter with the application of dressing on the salad depending on your own taste and dietary needs. As you might have guessed, Alice uses less dressing.

2-3T fresh lemon juice
1/4 olive oil
1/4 c canola oil
1 T water
2 t Dijon mustard
1/2 t garlic powder or 1 small clove garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Whisk ingredients together by hand or in blender. Pour over salad in desired amount.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!!!

We figured rather than throw an expected salad out here on this momentous first post or something with whole grains (now don't get us wrong, these things are good, good for you, and will surely find their way to this blog) we'd start things off [Achem...] right, maybe even with a little flourish. How about raspberries? How about something creamy? How about d-e-s-s-e-r-t? Are you with us?

I'm sure I heard a resounding yes from our readers. We're glad you think so. About this time of year I get itchy for something that tastes fresh, like ripe-from-the-sun fresh. And then I look outside and know that the sun won't be ripening much of anything for a few more months yet, which might explain this wintery hankering.

There's something about a few months of snow to cause vivid daydreams, hallucinations if you will, of warm summer sun, days at the park, picnics, biting into ripe fruit and the pleasing sensation of juice dribbling down your chin followed by the who-cares attitude when it slaps onto your shirt. It's summer, after all! It's the time of year when we celebrate vitality, fullness, abundance, the gathering in of goodness before the slow wind-down into fall. While I am a firm believer in the benefit of experiencing each season for what it brings, you can't blame a person for looking outside at the beautiful, yet very cold snow falling, and thinking forward to the days when I can dig my fingers in the dirt and plant a garden or visit the farmers market for something sweet and natural and utterly delicious.

So after a week like this, I naturally thought of raspberries.

In late January, we must head to the freezer for such things, and luckily this recipe uses the fresh or frozen type so it can be enjoyed any time of year. It also has the added bonus of being very easy to prepare. It's a way to enjoy raspberries in true wintery fashion, and it tastes gooood. Enjoy the shivery, raspberry, creamy deliciousness! And thanks again for visiting - see you next week!

Frozen Raspberry Cream Pie

1 can nonfat sweetened condensed milk
2/3 c frozen raspberry lemonade concentrate, thawed
8-oz tub fat-free whipped topping
1 1/2 c fresh or frozen raspberries, thawed
Lowfat graham cracker crust

Line bottom of 9x9” pan with lowfat graham cracker crust. (I just crush the crackers and add a little sugar. You can mix in a little butter if the extra fat and calories are not a concern.) Combine milk and lemonade concentrate. Fold in the whipped topping, then half of the berries. Spoon filling over crust, and top with remaining berries. Freeze. Remove from freezer 10-15 minutes before serving.