New Year’s eve is coming soon and to celebrate the day, I thought it would be fun to make something special like Baked Alaska. This is a family favorite that I have been eating since childhood and making for almost 30 years.
Who invented Baked Alaska?
Alaska was purchased in 1867 from Russia for $7.2 million (a little over $100 million in 2016 dollars). To celebrate the acquisition of the new territory, Chef Charles Ranhofer at Delmonico’s steakhouse in New York City created this dessert. (March 30 1867)
When did I first eat this amazing dessert?
One of my first memories of eating Baked Alaska was at summer camp when I must have been about 10 years old. I still vividly remember the waitresses (counselors) parading through the mess hall with Baked Alaska for all of us to celebrate some special occasion I can no longer recall. What an introduction to this wonderful dessert!
My mother started a new tradition of making Baked Alaska at home as a special birthday treat soon after I regaled her with tales of what had happened at camp. This was certainly a tradition I endorsed. Back then she made it with regular meringue with unpasteurized eggs, not the Italian meringue I now use in my recipe. We didn’t worry as much about food safety in those days. I guess we didn’t know as much about the potential perils of eating raw unpasteurized eggs as we do today.
Start a day or two in advance so the cake and ice cream are fully frozen
To make this dish you need to start a day in advance (or more), and before you start make sure you have adequate space in your freezer for the individual desserts. Be forewarned, once you make this one time for your friends or family, they’ll never let you off the hook again. In fact, you’ll probably find yourself making it over and over again for birthdays, holidays and the occasional family treat.
Do I personally eat Baked Alaska?
In case you are wondering, yes, I eat Baked Alaska on special occasions, despite being a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). Some things in life are just too good to miss…savor every moment and I hope you always enjoy good food, good health, and good friends.
Happy New Year!!
Have a wonderful 2020!!
Baked Alaska - An elegant dessert for a celebration
A festive dessert for nearly any celebration. To cut down on the preparation time, use slices from a commercially prepared pound cake.
One of my go-to favorite dishes is Chicken Satay with peanut sauce. Chicken Satay is originally from Indonesia, but it has been adopted into many other Asian cuisines. It is very easy to make, and is always very popular whenever I serve it to family or friends.
Indonesia is the world’s largest island country. It is made up of more than 17,000 islands and has a population of 238 million. According to a census completed in 2000, 88% of the population is muslim (US Department of State).
The food is colorful and diverse. There is also some variation by regions. Chicken Satay is always well received when I serve it to my friends and family. Nasi Goreng, Gado Gado, Corn Patties and Beef Rendang, are some of my other Indonesian favorites.
Use Light Coconut Milk for an improved nutritional profile
Since coconut milk has a high fat and high saturated fat content, I use light coconut milk to improve the nutritional profile of this dish. For those of you who like numbers — 1 cup of regular coconut milk has about 420 calories, 52 grams of fat and 36 grams of saturated fat. However, 1 cup of light coconut milk has about 150 calories, 13.5 grams of fat and 12 grams of saturated fat. If you are following a heart healthy diet, it’s important to limit the daily intake of saturated fats as well as transfats. I made the switch to the light coconut milk in order to make this dish more heart friendly. It also gives it a better nutritional profile, overall.
Chicken Satay makes a fun weekly meal or party hors d’oeuvres
Chicken Satay is a fun recipe to add to your weekly meal plan. It makes a colorful and healthy dish that is perfect for dinner in the warmer months when paired with a light salad. This dish goes especially well with Southeast Asian Cucumber Salad or Thai Style Vegetable Salad. I switch back and forth between these side salads from time to time. I like options when it comes to cooking so I can keep meals exciting and diverse. Add a small portion of brown rice and you are set for a delicious meal.
Chicken Satay also makes a great appetizer when you are having a crowd over for a party or gathering. In this case, I like to use smaller skewers and less chicken per skewer. Add a small slice of red or green pepper or a cherry tomato to make them more festive. Using smaller skewers and less chicken per skewer makes them slightly lighter fare which makes them more of an hors d’oeuvre than a main course.
Moving into summer, sometimes it is nice to enjoy a refreshing beverage with all the sophistication and complex flavors of a cocktail but without the alcohol. This Mint Mojito Mocktail is a sweet choice for pre-dinner cocktails or as an after dinner drink.
Mojito cocktails around the world
Originally from Cuba, you can now find mojitos being served in many different spots around the world. For example I’ve been served mint mojitos for Cinco de Mayo. It is a recognition of the Mexican army’s victory over France in the 1862, Battle of Puebla. In Mexico, it is a somewhat minor holiday.
In the US, always looking for a reason to celebrate, Cinco de Mayo parties pop up in many places. Mojitos are also popular to serve at summer gatherings such as the 4th of July, Labor Day or other festive days. If you have guests who don’t drink alcohol this mint mojito mocktail is a nice alternative to canned soft drinks or bottled water.
An Easy and Refreshing Mocktail
If you are hosting a brunch, lunch or dinner party with guests who prefer to not not drink alcohol, or if you are simply looking for an easy non-alcoholic beverage for yourself, this recipe is a great option. Coming in at just 50 calories per serving, the fresh mint in this mocktail is refreshing after a busy day. It only takes about 10 minutes to make. Serve over ice alongside Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce or Yellow Beet and Tomato Bruschetta and you are ready for a sweet celebration!
Cabbage often gets a bad rap as a vegetable to avoid. It causes gastrointestinal distress in some people and has a strong odor when cooked. Cooked cabbage conjures up thoughts of long cold dark winter nights in a lonely, snowy mountain cabin. I happen to like cabbage and would like you to consider making it a part of your healthy diet. This Japanese-style cabbage slaw is packed with nutrients, fiber and vitamins C, E and K.
Japanese-Style Cabbage Slaw
One of my favorite ways to eat cabbage is this recipe for Japanese-style Cabbage Slaw. This non-traditional salad is made without mayonnaise. As a result, the fat content is lower. It contains rice vinegar, instead, so it keeps well in the refrigerator. It is a nice addition for an outdoor barbecue, and is a safer choice to have out on a buffet than traditional coleslaw when the temperature is soaring. Want an alternative to a traditional salad for lunch? This slaw is a good choice that will keep fresh longer since it does not contain mayonnaise.
Red Cabbage for Vitamin C
Red and green cabbage are found in various Asian cuisines. In this recipe I opted to use red cabbage instead of green to increase the amount of Vitamin C you get in each serving. One cup of green cabbage provides around 32 mg of Vitamin C. One cup of red cabbage provides 50 mg of Vitamin C. The recommended daily value for vitamin C is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men over the age of 19. The higher vitamin C content of red cabbage makes it a better choice than green cabbage if you are trying to increase your vitamin C intake.
Why do we need Vitamin C in our diet?
Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that acts as an antioxidant, which helps prevent damage to cells caused by free radicals. Vitamin C makes collagen for the body to heal wounds. It helps the immune system, and improves iron absorption from plant based foods.
With the chilly weather outside, I start to think about warm peach berry cobbler for dessert. I don’t quite understand the connection, but it probably goes back to some long forgotten childhood memory of my mother making peach cobbler at this time of year.
Frozen fruit works fine, when fresh is out of season
Fast forward to 2018. Always pressed for time, I’ve adapted this recipe to use frozen fruit instead of fresh. To improve the nutritional profile, I use olive oil in the streusel, instead of butter.
Brown sugar in this cobbler
This recipe uses brown sugar with the fruit filling to enrich the flavor. Nutritionally, brown and white sugar are similar, and it is more a matter of personal preference. Brown sugar has molasses in it, which provides slightly more minerals than white sugar. However, since you are only using it in small amounts, the amount of minerals you’ll actually get from brown sugar in this recipe is minimal. In general, a healthy diet should not include a lot of added sugar as it doesn’t add much nutritional value but does add calories.
Peach Berry Cobbler as part of a healthy diet
In my opinion, everyone should be able to fit the occasional dessert into their healthy diet. Sugar is not evil, you just need to be careful to not eat it too often or in large quantities. Watch the portion sizes and savor something that is a little sweet when you are enjoying a meal with friends and family.
Several years ago my friend Renata Elghriany showed me how to make pierogies. Renata grew up on a small farm in a village of about 1800 people in southern Poland about 2 hours south of Krakow if traveling by car. She is an expert in Polish cuisine and frequently shares her wonderful recipes with friends and family, and now with you, the readers of secondactkitchen.com. One snowy Saturday Renata came to my house and we made pierogies. Actually, she mostly made the pierogies and I mostly took the pictures and worked on writing up the recipes. When we were done we enjoyed them thoroughly and now we hope you will enjoy them too.
I’m calling this post Pierogies with Love because making them is a labor of love since it takes a large part of your day to complete them. They are a favorite in my house, and freeze well. If you’re going to make them, it’s worth it to make extra so the next time you want to serve pierogies they are ready to go with minimal time to defrost, boil and saute this delicious treat.
Pierogies With Love
By Renata Elghriany
I am very happy to write this guest post about pierogies which are often considered “poor man’s” food in Poland, because meat is expensive and not everyone can afford to buy a lot of meat. Everyone in my village grew their own potatoes and other vegetables and had cows for milk to make cheese, so everyone in the village made and ate pierogies as a main staple in their diet when I was growing up. Everyone in the village shared their ideas about how to make pierogies and nearly everyone had a different idea about the best way to make the best one – the best filling and the best way to make the dough.
I have worked on this recipe for many years to perfect it, and I am excited to show you how it is done. One modification I’ve made since moving to the US is to use jalapeno peppers in the pierogies in order to add more flavor. There were no jalapeno peppers grown in my village at home. This recipe is an original creation perfected over the years and is a favorite among my family and friends. I hope it will soon become a new favorite for you and that you will find this recipe easy and delicious and enjoy it as much as the people in my hometown do.
Savory or Sweet
Pierogies can also be sweet or savory. For Valentine’s Day we also want to share the sweet pierogie recipe for Strawberry Pierogies with fresh whipped cream and strawberry sauce on top.
As I mentioned, making pierogies is a labor of love. This is because making them from scratch requires patience, time and care. You must first make the filling and the dough, roll out the dough, and cut it into rounds. Next you fill each dough round, fold it and crimp the edges. When they are done, you cook them in boiling water.
You can either serve them hot or you can sauté them in a little butter before topping them with sauce and a little whipped cream. Strawberry pierogies are the perfect Valentine’s treat – make some today for your family and friends. Pierogies with love – Happy Valentine’s Day!
A few years ago I had a wonderful trip to southern India with a group of amazing people, including Pam Mehta, who enjoys cooking and likes to try out new recipes. We still get together to create recipes for many of the foods we enjoyed on out trip including this pumpkin halwa.
For today’s post, Pam and I teamed up to offer you a tasty and simple pumpkin dessert we were served on our trip, and which you can serve at any time of year. Pumpkin halwa also works well as an alternative to traditional pumpkin pie when Thanksgiving comes around.
Halwa in India….
In India we tried a number of variations of halwa, made from a broad range of ingredients including fresh pumpkin, carrots and butternut squash. If you can’t find fresh pumpkin at the market, you can substitute acorn or other winter squashes. The flavor will be a little different, but it will still be an interesting dessert.
In this version, we were able to use fresh pumpkin. Traditional halwa recipes use ghee as the fat in this recipe; we substituted a small amount of butter for the ghee. While ghee and butter which is often included in other halwa recipes; significantly reduced the sugar, and used toasted coconut as a way to enhance the texture.
If you follow a gluten free diet, make sure the coconut and other ingredients that you use in the recipe were not processed on equipment that also processes products that contain gluten (e.g. certain coconut flakes may not be gluten free due to this issue).
Fresh pumpkin works best…
We also tried making this dessert with canned pumpkin (if you don’t want to mess with the fresh variety). The results were just not the same. Our advice to you is to go for the fresh pumpkin or fresh squash, or use fresh carrots, depending on what’s available. You and your family and guests will not be disappointed.
Finally, if you are looking for another alternative for pumpkin pie, try making pumpkin panna cotta for a change of pace. Like the halwa, panna cotta can also be made with different fruits and flavorings. Let your creative side loose and let me know if you come up with a new taste sensation.
There’s nothing like fresh baked blueberry muffins for breakfast, and these are low-fat, tasty, and easy to make. I usually make up a batch of 12 or 18 and freeze them so that they are ready to go in the morning. Of course, they are best fresh out of the oven, but that is a luxury that usually needs to be reserved for weekends.
Blueberry Muffins with Healthier Substitutions
In this recipe, I have substituted some of the more traditional ingredients to lower the fat content of the muffins and create an overall improved nutritional profile. For example, I use 1% or nonfat milk instead of whole milk and substitute applesauce for butter to reduce the fat content. I also remove the egg yolks and use only the egg whites rather than whole eggs to lower the cholesterol content of the recipe.
Baking at Home can help you improve your nutrition
Although muffins can be found at any local coffee shop, they are often filled with ingredients that do not align with a healthy diet. The best part of making your own muffins at home is that you can modify the recipe to suit your dietary goals and nutritional needs. For instance, if you are following a gluten-free diet, I have also adapted this recipe to create Gluten Free Muffins which may better suit your dietary needs. Baking at home is an excellent way to help you make better choices at mealtime to improve your overall health and nutrition.
What’s Your Favorite Muffin Recipe?
I hope you enjoy this recipe for Low Fat Blueberry Muffins. While blueberry muffins are a popular choice, there are so many different types of muffins one can make. Do you have a favorite muffin recipe? I’d love to hear from you — please send it my way.
*If you don’t have muffin pans on hand visit the SAK Shop to purchase them before you start baking.
I don’t personally avoid gluten, but I know many people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity who do. Today local grocery stores stock a vast number of gluten free products. You can also modify many of your favorite recipes to be gluten free which is why I adapted my recipe for Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins to create this version of Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in certain grains, including wheat, barley, rye and malt. It is made up of two proteins — gliadin and glutenin. If you have celiac disease you need to avoid gluten. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that can be quite serious if it is not properly managed, as it can cause damage to the small intestine. Some people do not have celiac disease, but do have gluten sensitivity, which can cause intestinal discomfort that is relieved by following a gluten free diet.
Is gluten healthy to eat if you do not have Celiac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity?
If you don’t have either of these conditions, avoiding gluten is not generally necessary, and in fact, is not particularly recommended because many commercially made gluten free products are loaded with extra fat and sometimes sugar to make up for the missing proteins. Further, by avoiding many of the whole grains which include gluten, you may be missing out on important minerals, vitamins and fiber which are essential for a healthy diet.
Gluten Free Low Fat Blueberry Muffins
In this recipe, I use gluten free multi-purpose flour in order to adapt these muffins to the dietary needs of the gluten-free community. So there you have it Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins. I hope you give this recipe a try and be sure to grab a set of muffin pans and paper liners before you begin baking.
Do you have a favorite gluten-free recipe for muffins? Please let me know in the comments below… I would love to hear from you!
GLUTEN FREE LOW FAT BLUEBERRY MUFFINS
These gluten free, low fat blueberry muffins are delicious and easy to make. Try them for breakfast or brunch.
Happy Holidays! It’s been a busy past few weeks, and I hope you are enjoying a few days off to visit with family and friends and recharge for the coming year. I’ve been working on this recipe for a while — the seal of approval finally came when my husband suggested I bring these pumpkin panna cottas to a recent family gathering — that’s when I knew I had finally found the right combination of ingredients.
Happy Holidays! It’s been a busy past few weeks, and I hope you are enjoying a few days off to visit with family and friends. It’s a time to recharge for the coming year.
I’ve been working on this recipe for a while. The seal of approval finally came when my husband suggested I bring this pumpkin panna cotta to a family gathering. That’s when I knew I had finally found the right combination of ingredients.
Pumpkin Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert adapted for the fall season
Panna Cotta is a traditional Italian dessert. It generally contains cooked cream that is thickened with gelatin and molded. It can be made with a variety of ingredients such as fruit, chocolate or a combination of spices and ingredients to create an array of flavors. In this recipe, I used pumpkin, maple syrup, and cinnamon.
Eat dessert in moderation
While desserts generally do not contain a lot of beneficial nutrients, I believe it is good to eat foods that we enjoy every once in a while so that our diets do not become too restrictive. Eating dessert in moderation can help us avoid overindulging in sweets when we finally allow ourselves to have something sweet to finish the meal.
In this recipe, I have substituted 2% milk and skim milk for cream to lower the fat content of this dessert. Using smaller ramekins also helps to limit portion sizes and assist you toward your healthy eating goals. You can purchase a set of six ramekins here. Click the ingredient links below or check out the SAK Shop to instantly purchase other supplies to make this delicious dish.