Thursday, January 13, 2011

Homemade Fruit and Vegetable Wash

I realized one day while walking the isle of my local supermarket that I should probably wash my fruits and vegetables--rather than just rinsing them in water. Watching people sneeze then touch the fruit to inspect it and then putting it back again kind of grossed me out.

Then I thought: I don't wash my hands in JUST water. I use soap. So I made my way over to the vegetable wash; then thought again. Hmm.... do I want to spend X dollars on this? Then I read the ingredients....most of them were unrecognizable. Then my final thought: I'd almost rather take my chances with regular everyday bacteria than chemicals my body would never recognize to fight off anyway. So I put the veggie wash back on the shelf.

While reading one of the 'tip' articles in my Cuisine at Home magazine a few months ago a reader had suggested just mixing vinegar and water to spray on vegetables. Genius. It's cheap...and totally safe. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant. In fact, it's what is used to clean my wood floors too!

No sense in wasting money on veggie washes, chances are you have the perfect ingredient to wash your fruits and veggies safely at home!

Vinegar Fruit and Veggie Wash
2 Tablespoon white vinegar
1 pint water

Directions: Mix vinegar and water together. You can put in a spray bottle or bowl and scrub clean and then rinse with water.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Beef and Broccoli

We are finally bringing red meat back into our diet. Mainly, because we had leftover tenderloin that needed to be eaten!

I found this recipe in my Women's Health Magazine a few years ago while reading poolside in Napa. Ahhh...those were the days! Most times I do that, I end up losing the recipe or throwing it out because lets face it, I am probably not going to make it. But this time, the recipe made it back in my suitcase unscathed. I'm so glad it did!

This is truly a great take on the beef and broccoli you would get at a great chinese restaurant...but way better. The best part, it literally takes 10 minutes (minus the wait time for the brown rice--thats 50 minutes). You could always make the rice ahead of time OR Trader Joe sells brown rice that takes 5 minutes I think? Anyway...its easy and I am all about an easy dinner these days. Trying to make dinner with an infant strapped to your ankle can be a bit tough!

A few notes: Black bean paste is in the asian isle (not mexican isle). It's actually NOT black beans, but soy beans. I found something that was similar (I wasn't able to find what the recipe called for which is made by Ming Dynasty) but it seems to work well. I use water not broth, and a smidge of red vermouth. I used ground ginger tonight because I ran out of my ginger stub I normally keep in the freezer...AND I left out the onions since my husband is allergic. It's good to know that leaving MOST of the ingredients out, the recipe still turns out!

Black Bean Sauce I used

This is the measurements and ingredients I used:
1- 8 oz beef tenderloin
1/2 cup water
2 T red vermouth
2 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 T black bean sauce w garlic
3 garlic cloves
1 large bunch broccolini
short grain brown rice

For the original recipe and directions, click here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Raspberry Swirl Mini Cheesecakes

I know. I told you we gave up sweets. While we still are trying to stay on track for the most part, we had plans to have our parenting group over and I certainly wouldn't impose goofy diet restrictions on anyone. Besides, I wanted to make these and it was the perfect way to be able to try one...and pawn off the rest.

But as nature would have it, I came down with a cold the morning we were supposed to host and we had to cancel. So I am left with 32 of these things. Not such a bad thing....if it weren't for that diet!

You know what I say? Diet schmiet.

I substituted the graham crust for a chocolate wafer crust. For the raspberry swirl I didn't follow the recipe because I had left over raspberry sauce from a Coeur a la Creme.

The result: creamy cheesecake filling, with sweet raspberry finish. The chocolate crunch crust compliments the raspberry flavor. I would definitely make these again. Surprisingly these were easy to make (for a cheesecake) and great because they are portable!

How to swirl the raspberry sauce in the cheesecake

For the Cheesecake recipe, check out Martha Stewart's page. This is for a full cheesecake but all you have to do is put these in cupcake tins with paper liners. Make sure you put them in a water bath. Bake for 22 minutes, and rotate halfway through.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Coeur a la Creme with Raspberry Sauce

I've been holding onto this recipe forever. I saw this Barefoot Contessa episode when my baby was very little. I didn't have the proper dish to make it so I put it on the back burner until I got around to ordering one. Truth is, I probably didn't need the pan--you can use a seive. BUT the pan is heart shaped and uber cute. Plus, it only set me back $8 on Amazon anyway. I'm a sucker for baking pans...just ask my husband.

Anyway, this is probably one of the EASIEST desserts out there despite the fancy name. I can't believe its taken me this long to experience this little piece of heaven.

Cooks tip: It's very rich and doesn't keep well in the refrigerator after you take the cheesecloth off and put the sauce on. My advice, either make this in small containers, cut the recipe in half or pour the sauce over the single servings OR just make sure you have a crowd to feed! I will mention also that the raspberry sauce made a TON. Way more than you probably need. I ended up having about 2 cups left over, both of which I froze into containers (1 cup each). They defrosted beautifully and I used one for flavor in an Italian Meringue Buttercream and for a cheesecake recipe (stay tuned for the post on the cheesecakes).

Raspberry and Grand Marnier Italian Meringue Buttercream

For the recipe, click here.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Corn and Cheese Stuffed Crepes with Poblano Cream

I used to spend a lot of time watching Food Network. Lately, I haven't had much time for TV, let alone something that would require more than 10 seconds of my attention. Over the holiday break, I caught a few episodes and nearly every show featured breakfast. I love trying new breakfast recipes just to break free from the traditional eggs and toast on Sunday mornings.

This recipe really caught my eye because I LOVE mexican for breakfast. (Okay its probably safe to say that I really love Mexican food in general). This recipe takes a bit of time in the morning but there are several steps and you could probably break them up doing some of them the night before. Each step is very easy and quick to do.

Crepes getting ready to go in the oven

The crepes turned out great! I left out the onions because my husband is allergic but I would definitely keep those in the sauce. I also mixed hot sauce with non fat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. I also sprinkled with feta on top.

Cooks tip: To char the poblanos put them over the gas stove and turn as needed. Once charred, put them in a sealed plastic bag to steam for 10 minutes.

Charred Poblanos- just scrape the char marks off with a knife


For the recipe, click here.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Turkey and Mushroom Meatloaf with Mushroom Gravy

In New Year's resolution true fashion--my husband and I are working on a cleaner diet i.e. no junk food, no sugar....and for now, no red meat.

Normally this isn't an issue for us. We are both red meat lovers, however, we know our limits and for the most part limit it to once a week.

The holidays were red meat overload. 10 days straight....from filet, to tenderloin, prime rib, lamb chops, leg of lamb, and tenderloin again. I finally couldn't take it anymore.

While I love meatloaf (I 1950's of me) I knew I had to stick to the red meat. So I replaced it with Turkey. You know what? I think I like this more!

Most recipes I looked at asked for both light and dark meat. I actually used light because I forgot to get the dark meat while at the store. But I will say....I've done this both ways and both taste equally as good. There are so many other flavors going on here, it really won't matter. I promise.

I paired this with mushroom gravy and this is by far the best meatloaf to ever hit my table!

Turkey Meatloaf

Recipe by: Courtney Monigold


1 lb Ground Turkey (white meat or a mix of both dark and white meat)

1 cup wheat bread crumbs

1/3-1/2 cup milk

2 eggs

1 T dried thyme

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 1/2 T worcestershire

2 T ketchup (plus more for drizzling on top)

1 garlic clove

3/4 lb white mushrooms or baby bella mushrooms, chopped

1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

1/2 t onion powder

salt/pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray bread pan with Pam.
  2. In a medium to large skillet over medium heat, add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add carrots, cook for about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Remove from burner. Add onion powder, worcestershire, 2 T ketchup. Set aside and let cool. (Cooks tip: Reserve the dirty skillet for the mushroom will add extra flavor).
  3. In a small bowl, mix bread crumbs and milk. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, add ground turkey, eggs, thyme, parsley, mushroom mixture, and bread crumb mixture. Mix together until combined. Press firmly into bread pan. (Mixture will be wet) Drizzle with ketchup. Cook 50-55 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Mushroom Gravy

Recipe by: Courtney Monigold (adapted from Group Recipes)


2 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided

1 cup minced mushrooms

1/4 cup red vermouth

1 1/2 tablespoons flour

2 cups beef broth (you can use chicken broth or vegetable broth also)

1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1/8 cup milk

1 dash salt & pepper

(Cooks tip: you can add a teaspoon of worcestershire sauce for additional flavor)


1. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Stir in mushrooms. Sauté 5 minutes. Add vermouth. Cook until liquid has evaporated. Remove mushroom mixture from pan; set aside.

2. Melt remaining butter in pan; stir in flour. Cook and stir over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Whisk in broth. Simmer and whisk 3-4 minutes or until thickened.

Whisk in poultry seasoning and milk, continuing to cook until heated through. Stir in reserved mushroom mixture; season with salt and pepper and worcestershire sauce, if desired.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Triple Chocolate Cake and a Happy New Year from Cafe Coco!

Happy New Year everyone!! Do I even have any readers left??!!

The new year is a great time to renew yourself...and those long lost resolutions.

I was never big on making New Years resolutions. Maybe because I never felt I had reason to. But since becoming a mom, I've become so much busier in life that I forget about a lot of things. A lot of things I had TIME to remember! So my New Year's resolution is to make more time for myself, more time to 'love' cooking, and to make more time for my poor neglected blog!

A little update on me: Motherhood has grown on me. In the beginning, I wasn't really sure it would. It's a lot of work and leaves little time for things I once took for granted. Like making last minute runs to the grocery store when I forget something! I've grown so much as a person, and a wife in the last 10 months. I've learned to not sweat the small stuff (ok I still do, but certainly not as much). I also value the 'small stuff' my little girl does....because everything is so new and only lasts months, if not weeks. As I watch my little one grow, it's apparent that she enjoys being with me, especially when I am in the kitchen. She follows me everywhere I go. I look forward to her 'helping' me more in the near future. For now, as I make anything, I feel her pull up on my pant leg and tug at it until I pick her up. She watches my every move. I love that. She loves licking the bowl of chocolate cake batter just as much as I do. And the look on her face when I let her try frosting off the whisk was completely priceless. I don't know that she will love cooking as much as I do. But I have a good feeling she will enjoy eating as much as I do!

As for New Years Eve this year, you can imagine, it was quite laid back. Finding a sitter for the evening can be quite daunting! Besides that, I've always enjoyed spending the night at home entertaining other people. The last few years we've hosted NYE, and I've always tried a new dessert recipe. This year, as I flipped through pages of a few neglected magazines, I noticed a triple decker cake I've had my eyes on since I gave birth. I figured, what the heck. I have nothing to lose.

I'll warn you. This cake is not for the faint of heart. It's truly a chocolate lovers' dessert. It's rich, it's creamy, it's chocolaty. It's truly quite amazing. The bottom layer is a flour-less chocolate torte, the middle layer is deep dark chocolate mousse, and the top is a fluffy white chocolate mouse--which balances the chocolate quite nicely. I've never been one for white chocolate, but in this instance, it really works in this dessert's favor.

While the recipe is rather easy, it's a bit time consuming. If that bothers you, you could always break it up and make the cake portion the night before and make the mousse the following day (which actually does not take much time at all).

Overall, the effort is well worth it. As one of my guests said "Why is it that paparazzi always show up when you bring out food. That never happens at my house." Perhaps they should make this cake! It's certainly photo worthy! (Forgive my photos as I did not cut the cake until my guests came and it was dark!)

For the recipe, click here. (you will have to register on the site to see it, but it's free)

Happy New Year!

Cafe Coco