Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Daring Bakers - Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

Being a Daring Baker turned out to be more fun than I expected. Actually, if I were having any more fun, it would probably be against the law. I started my journey with this month's challenge early. I would get the cake (genoise) done and freeze it and just take my time. When it came out of the oven - a materpiece - this is a walk in the park. I'll go shopping and when I get home, I'll just wrap it up and freeze it. While putting my groceries away, I took out a 2 litre container of milk that heaven only knows how, slipped out of my hand and dropped ... right on my masterpiece. Goodbye masterpiece - hello crumbs for a yet to be named dessert.

This month's challenge is hosted by Chris from.....ta daaaaaa
Mele Cotte, a self professed bakoholic who hails from just outside Atlanta, Georgia. Thank you Chris for bring to the forefront all of my obsessions, like trying to make a cake perfectly round - it's not happening in this lifetime so let's just call it modern art.

For my alcohol flavouring, I used Triple Sec which is an edgier version of Cointreau.

Let's just try this again shall we.

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter

1 Filbert Genoise
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Filbert Genoise

Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise. (of course that registered loud and clear for me - I don't even know what a genoise is supposed to look like - do I look like a baker to you). Carrying on.....

1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 lg. egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan.

Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds. Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture. You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process. Set aside.

Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar. It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Remove and set aside.

Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another ½ minute.
Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.

Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.* Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds. Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter. Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.

With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon. **If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter! It will impede the cake rising while baking.

Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5minutes. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely.

What?? You don't like my dimples???

*If not using the cake right away, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap, then in a plastic bag, then in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap in foil, then the bag and use within 2-3 months.

Sugar Syrup

Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers

1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. dark rum or orange flavored liqueur

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake. *Can be made in advance.

Praline Buttercream

1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup praline paste
1 ½ - 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)

Blend 1/2 cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine. Blend in rum.

Swiss Buttercream

This is the part where the directions really have to be followed. At first my buttercream didn't seem to be coming together but after following the excellent tips, it worked like a charm.

4 lg. egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 1/2 -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice (Triple Sec here)
1 tsp. vanilla

Place the egg whites in a lg/ bowl of a elevtric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.
Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside.

Note to self: Get another Kitchenaide bowl - it just makes sense to have 2.

Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become toooooo soft.*

On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute. Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.

Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.

Here's the tip that saved me:

Wait! My buttercream won’t come together! Reheat the buttercream briefly over simmering water for about 5 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful and do not overbeat. The mixture will look broken with some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Return the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed just until the cream comes back together.

Wait! My buttercream is too soft! Chill the buttercream in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and rewhip. If that doesn’t work, cream an additional 2-4 Tbsp. of butter in a small bowl– making sure the butter is not as soft as the original amount, so make sure is cool and smooth. On low speed, quickly add the creamed butter to the buttercream, 1 Tbsp. at a time.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.

Praline Paste

1 cup (4 1/2oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup Sugar
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.

Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle.

Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Apricot Glaze

Good for one 10-inch cake

2/3 cup thick apricot preserves
1 Tbsp. water

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.

Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm. If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.

Ganache Glaze

Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake (this was a perfect amount for the cake)

**Ganache can take on many forms. (who knew??) While warm – great fudge sauce. While cool or lukewarm – semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled – can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid – the base of candied chocolate truffles.

6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. (3/4 cup heavy cream - 35%
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)(more Triple Sec)
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1/2 - 1 tsp. hot water, if needed (I didn't need to add this)

Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside.

Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. (I used bittersweet chippits - worked like a charm) Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil. Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate. Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ - 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!

Assembling Cake

Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake. Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.

Spread the bottom layer with a 1/4-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream. Cover with 1/2 of the whipped cream, leaving 1/4-inch border around the edge of the cake. Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream.

Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake. Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-ich blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely. Chill while you prepare the ganache.

Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings. Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center. Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance. The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”. Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.

To garnish the cake, fit a 12 – 14-inch pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream. Stating ½ inch from the outer edge of the cake, position the pastry tube at a 90 degree angle with the top almost touching the top of the cake. Apply pressure to the pastry bag, moving it slightly toward the center of the cake. As the buttercream flows on the cake, reverse the movement backward toward the edge of the cake and finish by pulling the bag again to the center. Stop applying pressure and press the bag downward, then quickly pull the tip up to break the flow of frosting. Repeat, making 12 leaves evenly spaced around the surface of the cake. (Ok, so I'm not the world's best piper)

Make a second row of leaves on the top of the first row, moving the pastry bag about ¾ inch closer to the center. The leaves should overlap. Make a 3rd row, moving closer and closer to the center. Add a 4th row if you have the room. But, leave a 2-inch space in the center for a chopped filbert garnish. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.

Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Now it's time to finish cleaning up

Verdict: When you go to a fancy event or a wedding (which qualifies usually as a fancy event), you go to the pastry table and pick out the cake that you think will be worth the calories. This is the one. Need I say more?


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Chinese Napa Cabbage Salad

I don't see my friend "G" very often but when I do, I try to give her something home made. Cooking is a foreign word to "G" but she does love to eat (funny how that happens). I don't even think she's 100 lbs soaking wet, so either she's got incredible genes (that I could die for) or she just doesn't eat well. The other day "G", who knows about and giggles at my food obsession, sent me a recipe and said "you have to try this". I probed and asked how she came to try this recipe. Her answer was "me, are you nuts - my mother made it and it's so good".

The inspiration for this salad came from All Recipes. I gave it a read through and I rarely buy anything in a package but if "G" went to all this trouble, I'll try it. After reading the sodium count on the spicing package of the ramen noodles (over 1500 mg) I knew I wouldn't be using it. But, that didn't mean that I couldn't improvise. What's the worst that could happen - I'll feed my green box?


1 - 3 oz package chicken flavoured ramen noodles
1 Tbsp and 1 tsp butter
2 Tbsp and 2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
2 Tbsp and 2 tsp blanched slivered almonds (I used pumpkin seeds)
1/3 large head napa cabbage, shredded fine (I used about 1/2)
2 green onions, chopped (I used a handful of chives from the garden)
1 Tbsp and 1 tsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp and 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce (I used Tamari)
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp white sugar


1. Crush noodles, place them in a medium skillet and brown in butter over medium heat.

2. Add almonds and sesame seeds. Stir often to prevent burning.
3. Add seasoning mix from noodles and cool (I omitted this part)

4. Toss in a large bowl with cabbage and onions.


1. Prepare dressing by whisking together the vegetable oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar.
2. Pour over salad, toss and serve

Looking at the salad, I thought ..hmmm...kinda bland looking. I tasted and thought .. it's okay, don't know what all the fuss was about. I had another fork full and thought ... this is pretty good. Okay I'm hooked. It's fabulous and now I know why "G" was so enamoured with it. It has crunch and lots of flavour. Napa cabbage is so light it allows the other flavours to take front row while it acts more as a filler.

I am most definitely making this again and would serve it for company in a heartbeat StumbleUpon

Friday, July 25, 2008

Recipes to Rival: Thank George's Bank

Just before I get to today's post, I want to throw in a little reminder to vote in this month No Croutons Required event. The theme this month is a soup or salad that uses your favourite herb.


Have you heard of the new group called Recipes to Rival?

I think of this group as a savoury response to Daring Bakers. A dish is chosen once a month and revealed on a pre-established date. The mission is to work together as a group or individually to create a recipe that will increase our repertoire of cooking skills. To lend support and guidance as needed to other members of the club. Last but not least, to enjoy the whole experience. Here's the growing list of participants.

Last month was their first month and they featured a Ratatouille. You can learn more about joining the group by visiting the forum here.

This month's recipe is called Thank George's Bank. Here is the explanation of the recipe name, the original source is the Recipes to Rival website by way of the Black Dog Cafe:
According to The Black Dog this recipe is to honor George’s Bank, a bank on the outer continental shelf of the Gulf of Maine. For hundred’s of years, fishermen have gone there for cod, haddock, flounder, scallops, swordfish, tuna, etc… The fishing is now strictly controlled so the fish stocks can recover.

You can also find the full recipe at this link.

Essentially, the recipe involved steaming cod (something I've never done before):

The cod are steamed along with onions (I blended the onions afterwards):

Blend all of the ingredients together:

Form the fishcakes. A fair number of people in the group mentioned difficulties having the cakes stick together. Some ideas were freezing the cakes a bit before frying and adding more potatoes. I didn't have too much trouble with this myself.

When the fishcakes are nearly done, I poached a couple of eggs by putting vinegar in water and cracking the egg into the boiling vinegar water. The vinegar helps to prevent spreading of the egg.

The final step is topping the egg and fishcake with a hollandaise sauce:


This recipe definitely stretched me from the type of dishes I usually make. Even the fish alone was a stretch for me as I rarely cook with fish. This is something I would like to change. I'm glad to have tried cod, but I didn't love the cod flavour or smell.

I'm really looking forward to next month's recipe and continuing to stretch my skills/repetoire.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tried Tested and True Two - The Roundup

We're really excited to bring you our 2nd Tried, Tested and True roundup. Click here for the original event posting. You can find the first roundup by clicking on the banner in the sidebar (near the top of the page).

After the success of our previous event, we knew that we wanted to host a 2nd event and to add some new components to our event.

One addition is a focus on the cause of organ donation. This is a cause that is very important to us. To know more about our connection to organ donation, you can read about Giz's transplant here.

Talking about organ donation is a bit of a tricky topic because in some cases, it can require people to think about their own mortality. Personally, I find that thinking about it from the perspective of how many lives could be saved, makes it a discussion worth having.

How do you become an organ donor?

If organ donation is something you would consider, there are some measures you should take to ensure that your wishes are carried out. Some examples are:

- registering with a state/provincial/local organ donor registry
- filling out an organ donor card
- indicating your desire to have your organs donated on your license
- speak to your family about your wishes

But, check into the specific details for your location. Here is some information for Canada, the USA, Australia, United Kingdom and Ireland.

Another new component of this event is the prizes. We're including three prize packages for three entries. Christine Cushing, our celebrity judge for this event, has generously donated some of her products. Prize packages will also include awareness jewellery, donated by Blue Marigold. The neat bit is that you can go on the Blue Marigold website and select your preferred style. More masculine styles are also available.

So - here's the plan. We're sending all of the entries (a picture along with the recipe) to Christine Cushing. She's going to review the entries and pick her top three. The judging criteria can be found here. We'll let you know the results as soon as we get them. For now...without further adu. Here is the roundup of your health-promoting recipes:

Here's the roundup:

Appetizers & Bread

Nicisme from Cherrapeno delivers a crazy colourful Mexican Layered Dip. I so feel like a hat dance just looking at this eye popper that would be wonderful to serve to any guest at any time. How cute are the cut out cacti - great presentation Nic - so pretty.

Our Spanish chica Nuria of Spanish Recipes decided to treat herself with something delicious after becoming a "Daring Plumber". All I can say is look out Daring Bakers. Doesn't this Melon Con Jamon (melon and ham) look like you could just reach in and grab it? Nuria's plumbing story is hysterical - make sure you read it.

Cathy x from Aficionado introduces us to Mojama (pronounced mo-hum-a). You've never heard of it? Really? Don't worry, neither have I - but how intriguing is this recipe that is a tuna carpaccio served with a creamy avocado puree and a variety of complimentary ingredients.

Rajani from Vegetarian in Me introduces us to her dish called Potato Croquettes (with peas, coriander and coconut stuffing. This is the kind of "popper" that would make my tummy smile from the inside.

Lori Lynn from Taste with the Eyes submitted her Artichokes with Fragrant Tomato Sauce. The ingrdients are fresh and simple and when you combine tomatoes with fresh herbs and serve with fun eating artichokes, you definitely have a party.

Ivy from Kopiaste serves a very impressive and beautifully plated Fish Mayonnaise. Never heard of Fish Mayonnaise? I hadn't and was thrilled to see the amount of history and explanation that Ivy put into her post. Pretty amazing!

Nidhi of Charche Chauke Ke (say that 10 times in a row) submits her Spicy Garlic Vegetarian Sausage Bread. I can't even begin to explain the flavours that go into this recipe - you'll have to visit her blog to truly appreciate it. Wondering about the blog name? I was. Translated from Indian it means "discussion about the kitchen". I can almost smell this baking from here and I want some... now.

Dhanggit of Dhanggit's Kitchen shares her recipe for Caramelized Onion and Roasted Tomato Foccacia. I don't think I've seen a foccacia recipe that captures the epitome of big bold flavours in a bread like this one does. This is one of those "to impress" recipes that looks like a total delight to me.

Smita from Smita Serves you Right introduces us to her Whole Grain Brioche. Somehow, when I think of whole grain breads, and trust me I'm not a bread maker, I think of a more dense consistency. Smita's brioche looks totally light and fits the bill for a healthier option.


Michelle from Greedy Gourmet serves up Roasted Pumpkin, Red Peppers and Onions with a Sweet Balsamic and Mustard Dressing on a Bed of Couscous. WOW - let me hear you say that 10 times. As Michelle says, "it's dead easy, it's vegetarian and it's divine". After all, has she ever steered you wrong?

Kitchenetta from Got No Milk wows with her Jewelled Rice Salad. I can't even imagine this on a table without people going "WOW". I'll bet there's never enough of this salad to go around. Make sure you check out Michelle's blog and learn more about her event "Snack Shots".

Joelen of Joelen's Culinary Adventures shares her version of this incredible Bursting with Blueberries salad. The ingredient list on this salad is entirely drool worthy. If you haven't checked out Joelen's blog or her Culinary Events, they're always interesting and always enourage you to stretch a little to find new ways of doing things.

Ohio Mom from Cooking in Cleveland dishes up a wonderful Pineapple Chicken Salad. A pineapple chicken salad with a honey lime dressing - I'm sure if I close my eyes I can see myself on a beach in Anguila. I just need to order a girly drink with an umbrella in it.


Ann and Jack our adoptive blogger parents from Redacted Recipes shares a mouth watering recipe for Filet Mignon and Arugula. Ann has always helped us through our blogging uncertainties and has been ever encouraging. You can really see the substance that people are made of when they go the extra mile. If you haven't already, please do make a point of visiting Ann and Jack's blog and see a sample of that "extra mile". You should definitely check out Ann's post as her cousin shares her experience with organ donation. A very heartwarming story indeed.

Grace from A Southern Grace shares this wonderful Mexican Lasagna. Just look at that ooey goodness that's simply loaded with good things. Don't forget about Grace's event Beat the Heat.

Kittie from Kittens in the Kitchen entices us with her Catalan Fish Stew with Spelt Bread. I'm excited about Catalan Stew - it's a dish I've never tried before but you can be sure it's on my hit parade. And the spelt bread - I've looked around for a good spelt bread recipe for a while. My experience has been that the store bought I've always found has been less than enthusing. I can't wait to try this one.

Dee at Choos and Chews is inspiring with her Eggplant, Olive and Red Pepper Lasagna. Who knew there were so many versions of lasagna that can be called the same thing and all taste so different and all have different amounts of fats in them. Wouldn't you just love to reach in and grab some?

Cakelaw from Laws of the Kitchen cooks up a Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry. Adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe, Cakelaw has switched a little here, changed a little there and made this comforting version her own.

Ben who hails from What's Cooking treats us to a taste of his roots with Mexican Pizza. Ben has done a wonderful job of teaching the blogging world about the wonders of Mexican cuisine. You can visualize the sensibilities and passion of the people in this colourful and interesting looking pizza. Check out Ben's I Love Baking event.

Jill, of Simple Daily Recipes and Great Cooks Community, bring Chick Peas and Vegetables. Chalked with power foods, Jill likes to take a breather from meats with satisfying rice pilaf loaded with veggies. Look at those chick peas - beautiful.

Kelly of Sass and Veracity delivers Roasted Swordfish and Mediterranean Vegetables. Kelly's been holding out on us with this Michael Ciarello recipe and finally shares that it's so easy to put together but looks like you've been slaving all day. Go check Kelly's site for more incredible pictures of this mouth watering dish.

Parker who hails from the Vanilla Bean Cafe is a health enthusiast who finds creating healthy dishes a normal part of her daily life. She has shared her Grilled Blackened Scallops. For those who are reaching through their monitors - I've tried, it doesn't work. Parker shares a very touching story of her cousin's ongoing challenge with dialysis. Her cousin doesn't qualify for organ donation but inspite of it all is an inspiration because of her incredible outlook and spirit.

Bellini Valli, the hostess with the mostest from More than Burnt Toast tantalizes us with her BBQ Chicken with Vine Leaves and Goat Cheese. Although she's putting in mega hours working at a camp for children with special needs, her participation with this incredible dish speaks to the power of giving of yourself to others.

Lori at Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness treats us with Cilantro Pesto with Tofu. When somebody calls a dish creamy and dreamy, how is it possible to not pay attention especially when the pesto is combined with cilantro, tofu, cheese and pine nuts. I especially love that her husband didn't even notice the difference between the lower fat version and the regular full fat version.

That Girl from Paved with Good Intentions serves Whole Wheat Lasagna with Broccolini. "Truly from Scratch" showcases That Girl's lighter version of lasagna. She makes her own whole wheat pasta and fills her lasagna with skim ricotta and lower fat turkey sausage and broccolini. I haven't eaten lasagna for ages because of the fat -this I have to try.

Peter at Kalofagas - Greek Food and Beyond showcases his Agapes Spaghetti with Mint. Tomatoes, fresh herbs, olives, olive oil and barely cooked sauce according to Peter are an "intriguing melange of ingredients yet still Greek". Accessible ingredients combined with a healthy pasta choice of multi-grain spaghetti is the kind of entry that symbolizes this challenge.

Glamah of Coco Cooks shares Oven Fried Catfish and Spaghetti Squash. Pretty ingenious how she took a family favourite that originally was fried with spaghetti and changed it up to be oven fried with spaghetti squash.

Ruth of Ruth's Kitchen Experiments made the journey all the way from Northern Ireland with her Pita Sweet Chilli Stir Fry Pizza. How creative is taking a stir fry, putting it on a pita and topping it with cheese. Sounds like a pretty amazing way to trick the vegetable nay sayers into eating their favourite food without even thinking about it being really good for you. Gotta love a creative woman. Also, check out Ruth's weekly Bookmarked Recipes Event.

Adam of Baking with Dynamite treats us to Nalesniki. You may know them as crepes or blintzes. When I hear Nalesniki I definitely hear Polish pancakes that are light and tender. I have these categorized in main dishes and they make a wonderful light main but really, they can be breakfast, dessert and in my family it's a snack too.

Johanna stopped by from Green Gourmet Giraffe to introduce us to this incredible Vegetarian Casoulette. After much research about this traditional French meat centric recipe, she has successfully adapted it to maintain the flavour in a vegetarian adaptation. Kudos for a job well done.


Elle at Feeding My Enthusiasms showcases Surprise Banana Muffins with Walnuts and Spelt. Elle ingeniously takes a higher calorie banana muffin and transforms it to not only a lower calorie option but includes a surprise on the inside. These are not your ordinary banana muffins - the calorie steroida are taken out but not the flavour.

Ricki from Diet Dessert and Dogs brings a Decadent Chocolate Pate. Who would belive that the base is avocado and with only 3 other ingredients - how did you do this? Incredible - I'm waiting to see you on Iron Chef.

Sefa from Food is Love baked these divine Low Fat Fudgy Chocolate Brownies. Sefa claims she went from hating even the smell of the kitchen to becoming a loving cook. Her very first cookbook focused on changing up recipes to make them healthier. The combination of the love she puts into her food and her passion for lower fat options is such a winning combination.

Elle from Elle's New England Kitchen delights us with her Cranberry Orange Muffins. Here's what's so interesting about these muffins. Elle took an old recipe, examined it, thought about what she could replace and change to bring down the fat content while maintaining the flavour. She admits they are delicious. Nobody would even know.

Jude from Apple Pie Patispate gives me cause to squeal with her Oolong Tea Ice Cream using an egg free base. What makes this wonderful dessert so special is the fact that there are no egg yolks. It is recommended by doctors that those with compromised immune systems avoid eating raw eggs. I'm thrilled to have this option.

Mansi from Fun and Food put alot of effort into creating a whole new lower fat recipe called Low-Fat Strawberry Vanilla Cake. Tell me that when you look at this, you would for one minute think it isn't sinful.

Michelle from Big Black Dogs dares us with her Power Pucker Kiwi Sorbet. What could be more refreshing than a cool dessert that packs a punch. And if you have people around that don't like sour power - think of the fun you could have.

Deeba from Passionate about Baking quotes that "to eat is a necessity, to eat intelligently is an art". Doesn't that just sum up the whole philosphy of this challenge. Just take a look at these Pistachio Olive Oil Brownies

On a personal note, we would like to thank you all for participating! Great job everyone.

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