Lunch With Loni

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Texas Sheet Cake January 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 12:52 am

Another recipe from the Jan/Feb issue of Cooking Light….are you surprised?!  This issue featured the top chocolate recipes from all Cooking Light issues, and this one took second place.  To be honest, I’m a little bit surprised.  The cake itself was delicious, but I added more cocoa than it called for (accidentally, as I overlooked the “divided,” in the ingredients list, and had I not added the extra, I don’t know if it would have been chocolate-y enough for me.  The frosting/glaze was also too sweet for my taste.  I would make this again, but with a few tweaks.  It was my husband’s birthday cake, and he was not disappointed…so that’s the most important thing!

Recipe Courtesy Of: Cooking Light Magazine Jan/Feb 2012

Original Recipe Located Online At:


  • Cooking spray
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, divided  (I used 1/2 cup in the cake batter and 1/4 cup in the “frosting”)
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, divided 2 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup fat-free milk
  • 3 cups powdered sugar 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted


  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Coat a 13 x 9-inch pan with cooking spray, and dust with 2 teaspoons flour. Set aside.
  3. Lightly spoon 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 2 cups flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Combine 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup butter, and 1/4 cup cocoa in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add to flour mixture. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until well blended. Add buttermilk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and eggs; beat well. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 375° for 22 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack.
  4. Combine 6 tablespoons butter, fat-free milk, and remaining 1/4 cup cocoa in a saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in powdered sugar and remaining 2 teaspoons vanilla. Spread over hot cake. Sprinkle cake with pecans. Cool completely on wire rack.

Slow Cooker Carnitas January 22, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 3:15 pm

I love Mexican food.  I also love my crockpot.  It’s great to put everything in and be able to essentially forget about it…until the smell of yumminess permeates the house.  This recipe was a success.  I adjusted amounts slightly because I used a pork tenderloin (as opposed to a pork shoulder blade roast) that was closer to 1.5 lbs than 2.5 lbs.  I’m leaving the orginal amounts below, however, so you can adjust yourself according to the size of the meat you use.

Recipe Courtesy Of: “Gina’s Skinny Recipes”

Original Recipe Located At:



  • 2.5 lb pork shoulder blade roast, lean, all fat removed (Again, I used a pork tenderloin)
  • 6 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
  • cumin
  • dry adoboseasoning (I used Goya)
  • garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup 99% fat free chicken broth
  • 2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce(to taste)
  • 2 bay leaves



Season pork with salt and pepper. In a medium sauté pan on medium-high heat, brown pork on all sides for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.  To be honest, I’ve often skipped the browning the meat process when cooking in a crockpot, and I haven’t noticed an issue.  I think when it cooks low and slow and has liquid in it, particularly when it’s a meat you’re going to be shredding, it doesn’t matter so much.  But perhaps that’s also because I typically cook smaller cuts of meat.

Using a sharp knife, insert blade into pork, cutting small holes and insert garlic slivers.

Season pork generously with cumin, adobo and garlic powder all over.

Pour chicken broth in the crockpot, add bay leaves and chipotle peppers.

Place pork in crock pot and cover.

Cook low for 8 hours.  I only cooked mine for about 5.5 hours, but again, it was a smaller cut.  After 8 hours, shredpork using two forks and combine well with the juices that accumulated at the bottom.

Remove bay leaves and adjust salt and cumin (you will probably need to add more).  I added about two tablespoons of sofrito at this point, because I was worried it might be a bit spicy (I still used 3 chipotles even though I had 1lb less meat).  Plus I just happen to love sofrito and recaito, and throw them in just about anything!

Let it cook another 15-30 minutes.


Hearty Tuscan Bean & Squash Pasta January 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 2:51 am

I was ready to try another Cooking Light soup recipe last night when I realized I only had about a cup of broth, so I wound up morphing it into a tasty pasta dish.  Tonight I actually made the soup with the leftover bean mixture, and it was also delicious!

Original Recipe (Modified) From:  Cooking Light Jan/Feb 2012

Recipe Located At:


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup organic vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary  (I used dried)
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs (I used dried)
  • 2 cups chopped escarole
  • 1 cup pureed butternut squash
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 8 oz angel hair pasta (I made a bit more because the box was a little over half full)


1. Heat a large Dutch oven (I just used a pot) over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, and sauté for 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic, and sauté for 30 seconds. Stir in rosemary, thyme, red pepper, salt, and black pepper.

**At this point I removed half of the bean mixture and set it aside to use the next day (today) in the soup.  You could just halve the ingredients if you only want to make the pasta, but it did make for a quick dinner tonight, as I just had to add more broth, chopped carrots, and escarole! 

2.  Add the broth, let it cook down a bit, then stir in the pureed squash.  After the squash is incorporated, add the escarole and turn down to low/medium-low so the flavors can meld together. 

3.  Heat water to a boil, add pasta of your choice and cook to desired “doneness”  (I prefer al dente).  Toss with bean/squash sauce and top with grated cheese.



Chicken and Chorizo Stew January 4, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 1:52 am

2012 New Year’s Resolution = post more frequently and try more new recipes.  I love trying out different things, but sometimes I’m complacent and stick to old faithfuls.  I also “wing it” with things I have on hand, and then I don’t have any recipe to post about.  Then there are the times I have every intention of posting a recipe I have tried, but I gobble it up before I have a chance to take a picture.  Later this year might find me having more difficulty sticking with my resolution, since we’re expecting our first child in June.  But that might also mean plenty of sleepless nights where I can multitask?!

Today’s recipe comes from a magazine that I always find numerous recipes in that I can’t wait to try.  I’m so thankful that my mom gifted me a subscription to Cooking Light.  This is a double issue and includes a wide array of chicken recipes, which is wonderful since that’s the meat I most frequently cook.

Original Recipe From: Cooking Light  (January/February 2012)

Recipe Located At:


Pardon me, I forgot the parsley!  (The garnish, that is.)


  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 2 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 6 ounces chopped Spanish chorizo
  • 3 cups cubed red potato
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


  1. 1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 14 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken, reserving cooking liquid; cool. Shred chicken. Strain cooking liquid through a fine sieve over a bowl; discard solids.
  2. 2. Wipe pan with paper towels. Sauté sausage over medium-high heat 2 minutes. Add potato, onion, and bell pepper; sauté 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and next 3 ingredients (through saffron); sauté 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add reserved cooking liquid; bring to a simmer. Simmer 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add shredded chicken; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vinegar. Ladle about 1 cup stew into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with parsley.

This had very good flavor and was a perfect match for the cold weather that arrived today.  I did make the mistake of not using the proper type of chorizo.  Mine was not the hard, cured chorizo, but rather a chorizo that was similar in texture to typical Italian sausage.  I happened to have some on hand that I picked up from the butcher the other day, so I went ahead and used it.  It tasted fine to me, but I’m sure it was quite a bit different, especially in terms of consistency.  I would call this more of a soup than a stew, since I associate “stew” with a very thick broth.  But whatever you call it, it’s the taste that matters!