Sticking with the Valentine’s Day heart theme, try the wonderfully different and delicious salad recipe included here from Good Food for a Healthy Heart, a new cookbook from Good Housekeeping.
It tastes like Florida with its citrus, shrimp and avocado, but was created by a Chicago woman, Jan Valdez, who won the magazine’s grand prize in the Cook Your Heart Out contest. The cookbook (Hearst Books, $25) is quite usable, with lots of appealing recipes that emphasize good flavors without excess salt or fat. I particularly love the make-overs of treasured comfort-food dishes.
I recently was in a high-end department store and saw a boxed microwave-in-a-mug cake kit selling for $28. A fun gift to mail to those living with only a microwave for a kitchen, like college students. But compared to making your own, as with our popular recipe for microwave 3-2-1 mug cakes, that packaged kit was pretty pricey. It did include a mug, but who doesn’t have extra mugs?
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At any rate, when I saw the recipe included here for a “hug in a mug” from McCormick’s, I knew it would make a great Valentine’s dessert that even the kitchen-challenged could produce. Note that like any cake, microwave cakes expand, so don’t fill the mug more than 2/3 full. If you don’t have a big mug, simply make 2 from the batter.
Reader Ibby V. let us in on a fantastic quick cake, perfect for Valentine’s Day, that transforms an ordinary cake mix and a can of cranberry sauce into a sweet-tart, super-moist dessert.
“Before Thanksgiving, the Publix flier had a recipe for a doctored-up cake mix that I was curious enough about to try,” she wrote. “What a success! Very chocolaty but not too sweet, and very, very moist. It actually gets better as the days go by. And so inexpensive for a luxurious outcome.”
She says she made it three times this year already, in a 9-by-13-inch pan and as cupcakes and mini cupcakes, and advises that it’s better not to use cupcake liners, but simply to grease and flour the pans.
“Every time it was a huge success. The mini cupcakes were for a dessert buffet. I made plain icing [powdered sugar, butter, a splash of vanilla] and thinned it with some whole berry cranberry. It was an alarming shade of pink. In desperation I added a couple of tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder. It made a deep, dark icing, again not too sweet.”
I tried baking the cake in a Bundt pan, and did not fare as well — the cake came apart when I flipped the pan onto the rack. I think given the denseness of the cake I should have let it cool longer before turning, or perhaps the dense moistness makes this unsuitable for a Bundt. Still, everyone who tasted it loved the flavor combination.
Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com.
Red Velvet Mug Cake
2 tablespoons miniature chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons whipped cream cheese
2 tablespoons flour
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
1 tablespoon whipped cream cheese
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon milk
Make the cake: Microwave chocolate chips and butter in microwavable coffee mug on high for 30 seconds or until melted. Stir. Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Microwave on high an additional 45 seconds to 1 minute or until center looks almost set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
To make the topping: Mix cream cheese and powdered sugar until well blended. Stir in milk. Drizzle over mug cake.
Chocolate Cranberry Cake
1 (15-ounce) box chocolate devil’s food cake mix
1 (14-ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 cup water
3 large eggs (or 3/4 cup egg substitute)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 teaspoon orange extract, optional
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
Whipped topping (optional)
Grease and flour a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Combine cake mix, cranberry sauce, water, eggs, oil and extract in a medium bowl; mix with electric mixer 2-3 minutes or until well blended. Stir in morsels; transfer to prepared pan. Bake 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out dry. Let stand 10-15 minutes to cool. Dust with powdered sugar; serve with whipped topping. Makes 16 servings.
Source: Publix and reader recipe.
Tropical Citrus Shrimp
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 cup diced jicama
1/2 small red onion, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeño chile, seeded and minced
1 avocado, pitted, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Baked unsalted tortilla chips
Bring large covered saucepot of water to boiling over high heat. Fill large bowl with ice and water. Add shrimp to the boiling water cook 1 to 2 minutes, until just opaque throughout. Drain. Transfer shrimp immediately to the bowl of ice water. Let stand until cold and drain well. Cut shrimp into 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer to bowl and stir in the fruit juices. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Stir in mango, jicama, onion, cilantro, jalapeno, avocado, oil and salt and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes longer. Serve with tortilla chips.
Per serving: 155 calories, 15 g protein, 13 g carbohydrate, 5 g total fat (1 g saturated), 3 g fiber, 1.31 mg cholesterol, 300 mg sodium.
Source: Good Housekeeping’s “Good Food for a Healthy Heart” (Hearst Books, $25).