Flan Casero (Homemade Flan)

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Flan is one of my all-time favorite desserts.  I first learned to make flan when visiting my daughter who was studying in Argentina.  The original recipe calls for whole milk but I have made it successfully and deliciously with low fat milk.  Either way, you’ll get 1/2 cup of milk in each serving!

It’s easier than you’d think to make this dessert.  And it serves 8… so have a dinner party or save the extras in the fridge just for you!

Flan Casero (Homemade Flan) serves 8

Caramel:

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

Set out 8 ramekins. In a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, mix sugar and water, stir only to combine. Cover and cook for 8 minutes, until the caramel is amber in color. Remove from heat. Work quickly to pour about 1 tablespoon into each ramekin.

Custard:

4 cups whole milk

3/4 cup sugar

4 eggs plus 2 yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat milk with the sugar over medium heat until mixture starts to steam and bubble around the edges and sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes (do not let it boil).

Using a whisk, beat the eggs and yolks. Add the vanilla. Slowly ladle milk into the eggs, whisking to combine (this is ‘tempering’ the eggs). Add another 2 ladles to eggs and whisk. Slowly pour remaining milk into eggs while whisking to combine. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. Divide strained custard evenly among ramekins. Set ramekins in a baking dish and add enough boiling water to cover halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until custard is just set, about 45 minutes.

Remove ramekins from the water and cool on a baking rack. Place in refrigerator to chill (about 6 hours or up to 3 days). To serve, use a paring knife to cut around the outside of the ramekin and then invert the mold over each serving plate. Enjoy!

Fresh Strawberry Brie Bites

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Need an appetizer for a party?  Or a refreshing dessert after dinner?  This recipe serves both needs!  Fresh strawberries washed and hulled deliver color and sweetness when paired with creamy brie and fresh basil leaves.  Balsamic glaze provides a sweet yet savory finish for a fabulous combination!

Strawberry Brie Bites with Balsamic Glaze (makes 20-24 pieces)

1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled

Fresh basil, one leaf per strawberry (about 20-24)

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 pound Brie cheese, cut 1/4-inch slices into 1-inch squares (20-24 pieces)

Toothpicks or small bamboo skewers

Pour balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and gently simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the glaze is thick and coats a spoon (consistency of chocolate syrup). Set aside and allow to cool in pan.

Prepare a serving dish with a light coat of oil or cooking spray. Start stacking ingredients with a piece of brie as the base. Add basil (leaf should curve up to catch the glaze).  Next, add the strawberry (hulled side down). Spear stack with toothpick and drizzle with glaze. Arrange on the prepared serving dish. Enjoy!

Note: Any unused balsamic glaze can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for several weeks. 

Sweet Orange Chia Seed Pudding

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Chia seeds are a new ingredient in my kitchen.  What first intrigued me was their unique  nutritional profile.  Just 2 tablespoons provide 5 grams of fiber and 4500 mg of alpha-linoileic acid (omega 3’s) along with protein, calcium, vitamins and other minerals.  When these seeds are hydrated in liquid, they form a gel and suspend in that liquid.  They add texture to smoothies and are the gelling agent in this pudding recipe.  If you are a veteran user of chia seeds, please share your favorite way to use them.  If you are new to them, this recipe is a great place to start!

Sweet Orange Chia Seed Pudding (serves 4)

1 cup of low fat milk

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Zest of 1/2 orange

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 cup non fat plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup Chia seeds

Toppings: orange sections and shredded coconut

In a small bowl, mix together milk and maple syrup. Add Chia seeds and mix well. Let sit for 5 minutes and stir again. Refrigerate for 2 hours (or overnight), stirring again after first hour. When ready to serve, stir in orange juice, zest and yogurt, and thoroughly combine.

Pour into individual serving bowls and top with orange sections and shredded coconut. Enjoy!

Apple Pie Baked Apples

Apple Pie Baked Apples

It’s apple season!  Empire, Honeycrisp, Fuji, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala… the list of juicy goodness goes on and on.  Which is your favorite?

My 3 boys and I just went apple picking this week. We picked Empire and Honeycrisp. They are both delicious in this recipe.  Apple Pie Baked Apples were the first recipe I made with these freshly picked apples.   They work well as a dessert or a tasty after school snack!  Enjoy!

Apple Pie Baked Apples (serves 4)

We found the biggest apple we have ever picked (and my husband and I have been picking for 27 years!). Quite a prize!

We found the biggest apple we have ever picked (and my husband and I have been picking for 27 years!). Quite a prize!

5 large baking apples (Honeycrisp or Empire)

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 package prepared pie crust dough

Caramel sauce, if desired

In a very small bowl, combine cornstarch with 1 tablespoon warm water. Blend until smooth. Set aside. Peel and dice 1 apple. In a small saucepan, combine diced apple, sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch mixture. Stir constantly for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Slice off the tops of 4 apples. Using spoon (or melon baller), dig out the core (leave the bottom of the apple intact). Spoon the prepared apple filling into the cored apples.

Roll out prepared pie crust dough. With a pizza cutter or paring knife, cut dough into 1/4-inch strips. Working with one apple at a time, lay 3 strips of dough horizontally on top of apple. Weave one additional strip vertically across other strips. Repeat with additional vertical strip. Trim any excess dough from sides of apple. Complete same procedure with other apples.

Prepare an 8×8 baking dish by adding hot water to cover the bottom of the pan. Place apples in pan and cover. Bake in oven for 25 minutes. Uncover, and bake an additional 25 minutes or until crust is browned and apple is soft.

Remove apples onto a serving plate. Drizzle with caramel sauce, if desired.

Light Lime Cheesecake Squares

Key Lime Cheesecake Squares

Happy Friday!! I have a dessert recipe for you!!!!  It was inspired by one from Clean Eating magazine. This recipe boasts big flavor, creamy texture, and lower calories than a typical cheesecake dessert. Because it makes a large 9×13 pan, it can be enjoyed by a crowd…. just in time for the party and cookout season.  You’ll make everyone happy!

Light Lime Cheesecake Squares (15 to 20 servings)

11 rectangular sheets graham crackers

5 tablespoons Earth Balance (or butter), melted

12 ounces non-fat cream cheese

1-1/2 cups 2% fat Greek yogurt

3/4 cups sugar

1-1/2 tablespoons lime zest (about 4 limes)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons lime juice

2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray. In a food processor, process graham crackers into crumbs. Pour melted Earth Balance through feed tube and process until just combined. Transfer mixture to baking dish. Press into bottom to form an even layer. Bake until edges are very light brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer pan to a baking rack to cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. In clean food processor bowl, add cream cheese and yogurt. Process until smooth. Add sugar, lime juice and zest. Pulse to combine, scraping sides of bowl, as needed. Add egg and pulse until just combined. Pour mixture to evenly cover graham cracker crust. Bake until edges are slightly brown and center is set, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a baking rack to cool.

When cool, squares can be cut and served. Or, to enjoy the next day, cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Mother’s Day Menu

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This is my mom and me teaching a class together, ‘Cooking with Mom’ this week.

Here is a Myplate2yours Mother’s Day menu.  Three easy recipes that either the seasoned chef or annual ‘Mother’s Day’ cook can follow.  It is always a treat when mom can take a break from menu planning and prep…but she may be up for helping, if asked!

Enjoy your day!

Here it is:

White Gazpacho Soup

Grilled Chicken Fajitas

Lemon Panna Cotta

Warm Apple Crisp

Warm Apple Crisp

Tomorrow March begins!!!!!  But here in the snow-covered Midwest, Spring seems like a very distant reality.  The temperatures still average below freezing and there is snow in today’s forecast.  I find this to be the perfect time to share a warm, sweet dessert that will help put a smile on your face and those who eat this with you!  Enjoy!

Warm Apple Crisp (serves 6)

4 medium, tart apples (about 4 cups) peeled, cored and sliced

1 tablespoon sugar

1/3 cup yellow raisins

Juice of half lemon (1 tablespoon)

4 tablespoons whole wheat flour (or gluten free flour)

1/3 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup slivered almonds

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 8-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Set aside. In a bowl, combine apples, sugar, raisins, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon flour. Mix to combine. Spread evenly on pie plate.

Combine 3 tablespoons flour, oats, nuts, oil, brown sugar, and spices. Mix well. Sprinkle this topping evenly over apples. Bake in center of oven until golden and bubbly, 30-40 minutes. Serve in individual dessert dishes and top with your favorite ice cream.

Banana Chip ‘Ice Cream’

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This is a nice dessert option after a season of holiday sweets.  It does not require added sugar for it’s natural sweetness.  All you need are a few ripe bananas and a food processor.  Even your kids can have fun making this ‘ice cream’ as they turn their favorite fruit into a delicious frozen treat.  YUM!

Banana Chip ‘Ice Cream’ (serves 2)

2 small (or one large) ripe banana, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup semi sweet or dark chocolate chips

Chopped nuts and chocolate syrup, if desired

Freeze sliced bananas for at least 2 hours in an airtight container. Chop chocolate chips with knife on cutting board (or in small food processor), set aside.

Blend frozen bananas in a small food processor. Scrape down food processor as banana goes from crumbled to gooey and again to smooth consistency (like ‘soft-serve’). Add chocolate and blend briefly to combine.  Eat immediately garnished with chopped nuts and/or chocolate syrup.  Enjoy!

Candy Corn Fruit & Yogurt Cups

Candy Corn Fruit Cups

Just in time for Halloween!  It’s a snack that is both fun and healthy, unique amongst all the sweets & candy of the season.  It mimics candy corn when assembled:  yellow-orange-white as pineapple-oranges-yogurt.  These are easy to make and individually packed for a party or to simply ‘grab & go’.  Enjoy!

Candy Corn Fruit & Yogurt Cups (serves 12)

3 cups low fat vanilla yogurt

2 cans pineapples chunks (in juice), drained

2 cans mandarin oranges, drained

12 plastic, clear, 6-ounce cups

Candy corn, for garnish

Using a spoon, equally distribute pineapple in bottom of each cup.  Repeat process with orange slices.  Top with a 1/4 cup dollop of yogurt.  Garnish with a piece of candy corn.  Now they are ready to share with your favorite goblins!

 

Light Lemon Mini Cheesecakes

Mini Lemon Cheesecakes

Light Lemon Mini Cheesecakes are one of my ‘go to’ recipes when I need to bring a dessert to a party or pot luck.  It  is an easy treat that also boasts a healthier profile.  The flavor is fresh and light. It is quick to assemble and cooks in 15 minutes.  Lots of reasons to enjoy!

Light Lemon Mini Cheesecakes (makes 1-1/2 dozen)

2- 8 ounce reduced fat cream cheese

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, plus additional for garnish

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped fine

18 vanilla wafer cookies

18 paper muffin cups

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill muffin tins with paper cups and add a wafer cookie in each, flat side down. Top each cookie with 1 teaspoon chopped walnuts. Set aside.

With a stand mixer, blend cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice until smooth. Blend in lemon zest and vanilla. Scrape down sides, as needed. Add eggs and mix until creamy.

Spoon cheese mixture into each muffin cup, 3/4 full. Bake 15 minutes until center is rounded. Cool in pan. Garnish with additional lemon zest, as desired.