Frosted Cakes and Frosted Pumpkins

November 7, 2009 at 6:26 pm Leave a comment

roasted sweet n' sour plums 007   There was a coating of frost on everything in sight at seven o’clock this morning, but oh, the golden afternoon.  As my little canine companion trotted along beside me, crispy windblown leaves chasing her in her exuberant zigzagging trot to the park, I started to line up the cast for tonight’s dinner.   In deference to my husband’s low-carbohydrate needs, a recipe adapted from the very helpful book The Diabetes Diet, by Dr. Richard K. Bernstein, Chicken Breasts in Celery Wine Sauce, took center stage.

Co-starring, a quickie vegetable dish of Eggplant Sauté, Three-Cheese Pita Melts, a little pasta side dish (pun semi-intentional) of Orzo with Peas, Baked Sweet and Sour Plums for a fruity counterpart to the poultry, and for dessert, a hearty, semi-healthful Oatmeal Banana Cake.  To up the “healthful quotient,” eliminate the chocolate frosting on the cake – just as the glorious midday sun eliminated the frosting on the neighbors’ leftover Halloween pumpkins.  (Yes, I do enjoy a good stretch now and then…) 

For the chicken breasts: 

4 medium chicken breasts                   olive oil                                   2 chopped shallots

8 stalks chopped celery                       2 garlic cloves, smashed          1 tsp crumbled thyme

2 bay leaves                                         1-1/2 cups dry white wine      3 cups chicken stock 

Brown chicken (skinned and boned is my preference) in a bit of olive oil in an oven-safe pan.  Remove chicken breasts and sauté in remaining oil until lightly browned the shallots, celery, and garlic.  Add thyme, bay leaves, and white wine along with browned chicken breasts and simmer 5 minutes.  Add stock to pan, cover, and cook for 1 hour over medium heat.  Remove lid and cook until sauce is reduced and thickened, about 20 minutes longer.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving, if desired. 

And for the simple vegetable side dish of sautéed eggplant

2 tsp olive oil                                                   1 green pepper, chopped                    

1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion                      1 medium peeled eggplant, cubed                 

2 medium peeled zucchinis, cubed                 1-15 oz can chopped tomatoes, drained

                                                oregano for garnish     

 Sauté in a large, lightly oiled non-stick frying pan the green pepper and onion for about five minutes.  Add eggplant and zucchini, and cook another 4-5 minutes or just until softened.  Add tomatoes and cook just until heated through. 

For the pita melts: 

2 whole wheat pitas, halved               3 TB grated cheddar               3 TB grated white cheddar

3 TB grated Romano                          cooking oil spray                     coarse salt 

Toss the three cheeses together and stuff into the four pita halves.  Spray the outside of the pitas very lightly on both sides with olive oil cooking spray, and sprinkle them with coarse salt.  Toast on a foil-lined cookie sheet in the oven at 350° for about ten minutes, until they are golden brown and the cheese is melted.  Cut each half into three wedges. 

The orzo with peas provides a taste of pasta to go with the cheese and tomato themes above: 

8 ounces orzo                          1 cube chicken bouillon                      1 cup frozen peas

2 tsp olive oil                           2 tsp lemon juice                                 ¼ cup minced green onion

1 tsp crumbled dry basil or 2 TB chopped, fresh basil 

Add orzo to a medium pot of boiling water along with chicken bouillon and cook for about ten minutes, or until tender.  During last minute of cooking, add frozen peas to the cooking water.  Drain orzo/pea mixture well and place in a serving bowl.  Sprinkle with olive oil, lemon juice, green onion, and basil and toss to combine. 

Finally, I had some nice plump plums on hand for the fruit component:  

4 plums, washed, halved, and pitted              2 tsp balsamic vinegar             2 tsp brown sugar

 Place plums, cut sides up, in a shallow casserole dish.  In a small bowl, combine vinegar and brown sugar well then spread an equal mount of this mixture onto the cut surfaces of plums and bake them at 350° for about 20 minutes.  

And finally, the oatmeal banana cake: 

1 cup unbleached flour                       1 cup whole wheat flour         1 cup rolled oats

2 tsp baking powder                           1 tsp baking soda                    ½ tsp salt

¼ tsp nutmeg                                      ½ cup softened butter                         1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs                                                  1 tsp vanilla                             1-1/2 cup pureed ripe banana ¾ cup buttermilk 

In a medium bowl whisk together until well blended the flours, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and  nutmeg.  In large mixer bowl, butter with brown sugar until light and fluffy.  (Helpful hint, if I do say so myself:  If you are ever out of brown sugar, just stir 2 tsp molasses into 1 cup of white sugar.  It distributes through amazingly well, and provides a perfectly good substitute.) 

Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.  Add dry ingredients alternately with pureed very ripe banana, and buttermilk, mixing lightly after each addition.  Pour batter into greased 13 x 9” cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on wire racks. 

Frost with Baker’s™ One Bowl Chocolate Frosting, found on the package liner for Baker’s™ Baking Chocolate.  I used the full recipe and it was too much.  To halve the recipe: 

2 sq. Baker’s™ Unsweetened Baking Choc.                         2 cups powdered sugar

¼ cup (1/2 stick) softened butter                                2 tsp vanilla                             1/3 C milk 

Heat chocolate in microwave on high for 2 minutes, and then stir until melted.  Put melted chocolate in mixer bowl and stir in powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla.  Add milk a little at a time, mixing on low until blended and spreadable. 

For those seeking an uber-indulgence, top each slice of frosted banana cake with a scoop of butter pecan ice cream.  Alternatively  for those avoiding sugar overload – omit the frosting and top each slice with a light version of chocolate-almond ice cream.  Either way, this is my new favorite Once-a-Week Sweet Treat  Indulgence Allowance, and yes; that list is getting almost as long as its title, but who’s measuring.

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Recipe. According to Encarta, "a list of ingredients and instructions for making something." The thesaurus offers the alternate terms, "formula, guidelines, directions, steps, technique."

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