What I Love to Cook


Michelle Branch’s Pineapple Cupcakes

Makes: 12

Prep time: 25 min.

Cooking time: 15 min.

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (room temperature)

2/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs (room temperature)

1/3 cup pineapple juice

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

3. With an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

4. Add vanilla, then beat in eggs one at a time. Alternate adding dry ingredients and pineapple juice (starting and ending with dry). Mix well until creamy.

5. Place cupcake liners in muffin pan. Fill each ¾ full with batter. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when put in center. Put on wire rack to cool.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting:

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened

6 oz. cream cheese (room temperature)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. coconut extract

3 cups powdered sugar

2 to 4 tbsp. milk (depending on consistency)

Sweetened shredded coconut, maraschino cherries (optional for topping)

1. With an electric mixer, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add vanilla and coconut extracts. Add sugar 1 cup at a time until smooth. Add milk until you reach desired consistency.

2. Top with sweetened shredded coconut, a maraschino cherry and a cocktail umbrella.

Bob Harper’s Roasted Vegetable Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing

Serves: 3 to 4

Prep time: 10 min.

Cooking time: 35 min.

8 small carrots, sliced into rounds

6 small zucchini, sliced into rounds

1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips

3 squash, sliced into rounds

1 (15.5-oz.) can chickpeas

Salt and pepper to taste

3 heads romaine lettuce, washed and torn into small pieces

1 cup cucumbers, sliced

2 ripe red tomatoes, sliced Vinaigrette dressing of your choice

1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Toss together carrots, zucchini, peppers, yellow squash and chickpeas on a large sheet pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and lightly spray with olive oil. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring once. Let cool.

3. In a large bowl, combine lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes. Add grilled vegetables and toss with dressing.


Holly Robinson Peete’s Brussels Sprouts Salad

Serves: 6

Prep time: 10 min.

Cooking time: 3 min.

1¾ lbs. fresh brussels sprouts

1 cup slivered almonds

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tbsp. truffle oil

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. fresh cracked pepper

3 tbsp. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

2 tbsp. finely chopped chives

¾ cup dried cranberries

1 tsp. coarse salt

1. Wash the brussels sprouts and slice as thinly as possible. Toast the almonds in a dry pan until they are medium to dark brown, about 3 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, whisk olive oil, truffle oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Toss in the sliced sprouts with the almonds, cheese, chives and cranberries.

3. Sprinkle coarse salt on top for added flavor. Toss and serve.

Debi Mazar’s Eggplant Parmesan

Serves: 4

Prep time: 2½ hrs.

Cooking time: 30 mins.

2 large eggplants

Olive oil

1 red onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced into thirds

2 (28-oz.) cans whole tomatoes, drained

4 oz. fresh basil, rinsed and dried

Salt and pepper

Canola oil

1¾ cups flour

1 lb. fresh mozzarella, grated

½ lb. Parmesan, grated

1. 2 to 3 hours in advance, rinse eggplants well and slice thin.

2. Layer the slices on a tray or in a colander, covering every layer with a generous sprinkle of salt; this will extract water from the vegetable, making it lighter and easier to cook. When ready to cook, blot slices with paper towels or in a dish towel to remove excess moisture.

Red Sauce:

1. Heat 3 tbsp. olive oil in a large saucepan. Sauté the chopped onion over a medium-high flame. When it starts to brown, add the garlic and, in about 3 to 5 minutes, add the tomatoes (chop them in a food processor to speed up the cooking time and to make the sauce a bit thinner). Add half of the basil, season with salt and pepper and cook for about 30 to 40 minutes over a medium flame. Set aside.

Eggplant Parmesan:

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Heat 1 inch of canola oil in a large, nonstick pan.

3. Pour flour into a wide plate. Dip the eggplant slices in flour and fry lightly, about 3 to 5 minutes. Do not crowd pan. As they finish cooking, take them out of the pan and lay them on some paper towels. Let them dry and cool off.

4. In a disposable tray, sprinkle a bit of olive oil and start layering your ingredients: a few slices of eggplant, some red sauce, a couple of handfuls of mozzarella, a couple of tablespoons of Parmesan, a few leaves of basil, a few grindings of pepper. Keep layering ingredients until you reach the top of the tray. Top with remaining tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

5. If an extra “crisp” is desired, place dish in the broiler for 3 to 4 minutes.

6. Serve garnished with a few leaves of basil, a sprinkle of Parmesan, a touch of olive oil and some freshly ground pepper.

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