Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ricotta Cakes with Berry Sauce

Cheese.. it's what for dessert!

So, I jumped on the new "plan your meals weekly" trend, and I have to say, so far, I love it! I spend so much less at the grocery store each week because I can plan around what we already have and just buy what we don't. For example, I wanted to make Mozzarella stuffed meatballs this week, so I planned in a Margherita pizza as well to use up the rest of the cheese. But, back to dessert... I had made stuffed shells last week, and had some ricotta leftover. I knew there wasn't enough for another meal, so I turned to dessert. I fired up my FoodGawker account and searched away. After sifting through a lot of cheesecake (not enough ricotta for those, either) recipes, I found one called Ricotta Cakes. Needless to say, I was intrigued. I read the recipe, and sure enough, I had just enough cheese to pump these babies out. Woo!

The original recipe serves 8, so I reduced it down to 2 servings, since that's really all we needed. The following recipe fit gorgeously in my 4oz ramekins and were just enough for an awesome, low calorie dessert! (I've also been on a calorie counting kick. I'm still trying to drop the baby weight, a year later!)

The recipe breaks down as follows:

125g (about 1/2c) Ricotta Cheese
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1/2 T honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100g (just under 1/2c) mixed berries*

*you can use any berry you wish. I just happened to have frozen mixed berries on hand. They can be fresh or frozen as well.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees(F). Combine the cheese, egg, honey and vanilla in a small bowl. Lightly grease your ramekins (or whatever your cooking vessel may be). Pour mixture in evenly and bake for 20 minutes. While your cakes are baking, combine berries with a little bit of water in a small saucepan. Cook until soft. Cool slightly and then run through a blender until smooth. When cakes are finished, allow to cool and serve with sauce.

I have to say, I was a little worried upon putting them in the oven. They were very loose and more like a liquid than a cake batter. Mine took a little longer than 20 minutes (about 25), but they came out beautifully.  As you can see above, I removed mine from the ramekins and placed them in my super colorful bowls for serving. I also ignored the blender step and just took my potato masher to the berries. I figured the cakes were smooth enough, the dessert needed some texture. The original recipe did not mention if they should be served warm or cold, so I just let them cool to the point I could hold the ramekin to get them out and served them up. I'm sure they would taste just as great cold, and could be an awesome party dessert!

Overall, I was extremely pleased with these little babies, and this will be my go to dessert for any extra ricotta I may have in the future. The best part.. ok, well one of the best parts is they check in at a mere 169 Calories! What's not to love about that!


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sweet Potato Tots

Tater Tots: One inch nuggets of potato-y goodness. I've eaten plenty in my day, but never had I ever thought of actually making them. Then, there I was on Pinterest (big surprise) and BAM ... there it was... Homemade Tater Tots. Naturally, I just had to make them. They really are better than french fries. There's no denying it. 

So, I copied down the most simplistic recipe I think I've ever seen. At least, one involving a potato... I didn't even bother copying it to the white board, it's that simple. And, I waited. I waited for Emily to take her nap. The recipe involves fine grating the potato, and I wasn't really up for that challenge with a one year old running around. While I waited, I tried to figure out what to make with the tots. Yes, I decided on my dinner side dish before my entree. It happens. A short text conversation with my sister later, we decided on burgers. Burgers and tater tots for dinner. Yum!

So, Emily finally took her nap, and I did my usual first. I spent 30 minutes on the treadmill, then up I came to grate some potatoes. Yes, I went right from working out to frying food.... don't judge me.

I had decided to go with sweet potatoes in an attempt to make them a little  healthier. The original recipe called for 3 medium sized potatoes to feed 5 people. So, I was going to halve it to serve our 2 and a half. So, I used one sweet potato (they're pretty big), fine grated it using my box grater, and laid it out on paper towels. Now, the recipe says to make sure they're dried well, so I squeezed as much water out of those taters as I could, and put them back into the bowl. I added 2 tablespoons of flour, some salt and pepper and gave them a mix. I shaped them into little once inch logs (I was able to get 15 out of one potato), and put them in the fridge to chill a bit while the oil heated. I pan fried them this time, to make sure the recipe held true and they didn't fall apart. The last thing I needed was little bits of potato all over my deep fryer. Next time, though, they're definitely going in the deep fryer! So I fried them off, and set them to cool. They'll be reheated in the oven come dinnertime. Naturally, I tasted one... and boy are they scrumptous! The next time I see a sale on potatoes, you can be sure I'll be picking some up and making a large batch of these beauties to pop in the freezer!

So, as the original recipe from Can You Stay For Dinner? says:

3 medium sized potatoes
1/4c flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4c canola oil (for frying)...

Peel and fine grate your potatoes, drying well (the dryer the better). Add flour, salt and pepper and mix well. Form into 1" logs. Fry until golden brown on all sides. 

The best part about them... one serving (about 5 tots in my case) is only around 94 calories! (I calculated this based on the fact that they only really absorb about a tablespoon of the oil you're frying them in). So, they're really not all that bad for you, compared to white potatoes! Woot!

Alright, I'm off to prep some burgers (yay!) and fold some laundry (boo!).

Until next time...