Two weeks in -- Chicken Salad Rocks

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

And, I have some favorite new meals including the Fuji Apple Salad at Panera, Almond Milk, and homemade chicken salad.

The trick so far is to eat before I'm normally hungry so I don't make bad choices. Prepping lots of food for the fridge and making sure I have healthy snacks on hand for those craving moments when they are serving birthday cake in the breakroom.

So here is my Chicken Salad Recipe

Olive Oil
1 onion diced
1 Tablespoon Cumin
Minced Garlic
2 cups Chicken Broth
1lb Chicken Boneless Skinless Breasts
Green Onions
Red Bell Pepper Petite Diced
Grapes Cut in Half
Mango Chutney (or oregano if you don't have Mango Chutney on hand)

This is the same chicken  I use for Chicken Enchiladas
Heat oil in a dutch oven, or large skillet (you will need a lid) add onion and brown over medium heat, add Cumin and Garlic and let the ingredients release their aroma (about 30 seconds) add chicken broth and chicken pieces - cook until internal temperature is 165 degrees.

Cube chicken and add the remaining ingredients - season to taste with salt and pepper.

Caprese Pizza - My way

Monday, September 12, 2011

See the post about pizza crust and then add my favorite ingredients.

1. Slice Tomatoes
2. Fresh basil compliments of Kim
3. Mozzarella (the good kind)
4. Parmigiano (the good kind)
5. Splash of Balsamic Vinaigrette, Salt, & Pepper.

And, voila

Roasted Red Pepper Curry Soup

Thursday, September 8, 2011

This was an absolute blast - from roasting my own red peppers, to using my hand held mixer stick thing. The soup reminds me of the Pumpkin Curry Soup but with a bit more substance to it. (Provided by the potatoes)


I added cumin, curry powder, and a dash of cayenne pepper (which stings quite a bit when you get it in your eye! We use a paste of milk and baking soda to get the burn out)

Check it out on the food networks website - courtesy of Giada De Laurentils

Sanitation & Jazz

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I have a 17+ year old calico cat, she has aged well sleeping with me every night since 6th grade.

Recently my little furry friend has taken to drinking from the toilet (gross!) & tub after we shower (double gross!) luckily we don't leave any chemicals in either, so she is still alive.

But, this morning my husband caught her doing something a bit more surprising.

That is my kitchen sink! Those are dishes my husband used to warm up his dinner last night. I'm not sure if she was eating dried bits of steak or a pool of water from the drippy faucet. And, I really don't care. I think it is NASTY. Mostly because I watched her drink from the tub just a few hours earlier.

I don't wash my dishes in toilet water, and I don't like the idea of Ms. Jazz spreading bathroom germs to the kitchen. (Note: I'm not really worried about common cat germs)

So, after class tonight, and after I scoop the KL for trash night. I'm cleaning the kitchen... and maybe installing a door into the hallway to our bedroom so she can't visit the kitchen when I'm not looking.

Oh, and we do provide her fresh water on a daily (mostly twice a day) she apparently likes these "fresher" sources better. Maybe it is time for a kitty fountain.

Vodka, Shrimp & Okrah

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Last night I needed to make a quick dinner. We haven't been grocery shopping in over a week so options are limited to begin with, but I hadn't thawed anything. The solution?

Shrimp Tempura, Misc Tempura Veggies & rice (I think we have rice or pasta with every meal)

Cook's Illustrated had an interesting recipe for the coating - it included Vodka. My husband, a former bartender, appreciates anything that includes alcohol. (bread pudding coating in rum sauce, beer bread, tiramisu, me after bottle of wine, etc.) So when I finally returned home from class I/we got started with the quick and easy dinner. Of course I was missing seltzer, so Jordan ran off to the store as I chopped veggies and cooked the rice.

The result (after quite a few minor burns from popping grease) was a delicious plate of fried food. Not our healthiest dinner, but it sure was delicious.

Note: Subscriptions to Cook's Illustrated are 50% off right now. I DO NOT get any kick backs for you signing-up (but if you get the 2011 Buying Guide I'd love to see it)

Naan Bread

This past Sunday I had the pleasure of getting together with some dear friends from grade school. The menu for the night was something unique that could please eveyone's pallet.

Naan Bread
Chicken Tikka Masala
Bread Pudding (made by Nikki)

For quite a long time Naan bread has interested me. The texture, the taste, and the fact that only fresh naan bread from a semi-authentic Indian restaurant would ever fulfill my craving. After careful research (a quick google search) I found a recipe with over 1000 positive reviews on

I tried cooking it two different ways. First, in a skillet on the stove top using olive oil and a nonstick pan. It looked great and tasted delicious (when you add the butter is tastes familiar maybe like a flat bread version of Little Caesars Crazy Bread) Then I thought I'd get creative and cook the rest in the oven on a pizza stone.

Both methods worked well - however the stove top cooking gave me more control (and I was able to keep a MUCH closer better eye on it)

Culinary School...well SafeServ Sanitation & First Aid Class

My first day back to school was quite exciting. The elevators at IVY Tech (I think there are only two or three) had quite a line so I took the stairs.... to the 5th floor. I arrived a bit early to my class and met Chef Angie & Dave (a fellow student)

Chef Angie was engaging and dynamic something I think will come in quite handy.

I was reminded again that I don't have a clearly articulated goal for what I am doing. I know I want to "learn to cook" but I also want to enter the world of nutrition (biology classes her I go ::gag::) I'm not sure if I want to be a private chef (cooking in your home when you don't want to ... the collective yous not just one person) or if I want to run a corporate dinning hall (not the kind run by Armark with fried junk, and stale bread) or maybe I'll do what my mom suggested and run a highend food truck service.

At this point it doesn't matter, I'm going to take some classes and enjoy learning new things. I don't have to have master plan, and I don't have to know where I'm going. I just know that being in that class last night was where I wanted/should be.

It's kind of nice... kind of peaceful.

BJ's Oatmeal Muffins

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Just last week my MIL gave me a wonderful recipe for Jordan's favorite muffin. This super easy recipe was the perfect thing to make this morning as Jordan headed to Chicago for a Bachelor party. I was able to use my new food processor to make the Traditional Oats I had on hand "Quick Oats" by pulsing them a few times and re measuring. This saved me a trip to the store, and let me use something I always keep in my pantry (aka one of the various cabinets I stash food and not an actual pantry)

I was a little worried when I checked on the muffins after 10 minutes the outsides look as if they were rising but the middle wasn't peaking. Luckily I didn't ditch the batch and just start over because they turned out wonderfully.

So here is Brenda's recipe.

BJ's Oatmeal Muffins (16 large or 24 regular)
From: Brenda

Cooking time 25 minutes
Preheat oven to 400-425

1 1/2 Cups self-rising flour
1 Cup Brown Sugar (I also now add 1/4 - 1/2 cup White Sugar)
1 1/4 cups Quick Oats
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 Cup Milk
1/4 veg. oil (or 1/2 cup applesauce)
2 eggs

Combine all dry ingredients mixing well, Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Pour into prepared (buttered) metal muffin pan.

Italian Beef Sandwiches - Susie Wiseman (perhaps also from the Gold & Black team that shall not be named Tailgate Cooking Contest)

This recipe made enough for Jordan to have left overs for several lunches and dinners. He LOVED it. I used a smaller roast than called for, and used about half the juice to make a gravy for mashed potatoes. Seriously delicious!

Recipe: Italian Beef Sandwiches
From: Susie Wiseman

Cooking Time Low 10 - 12 hours in the CrockPot

4-alb Beef Roast (boneless)
1 tsp. (cayenne) red pepper
2 tsp basil & 2 tsp oregano (or 3-4 tsp mixed Italian Spices)
1 pkg Onion Soup Mix (Lipton or other)
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder) I used quite a bit more garlic
1 1/2 - 2 cups water

Put all ingredients & water in crockpot. Add Roast. Cook on low 10-12 hours, or until meat falls apart (- or you can cook on High for less time). You can cut roast in smaller pieces & it won't take as long.

Shred beef & refrigerate w/any juice left in crockpot.

Make day before game. Before using, heat beef & put in large mouth thermos serve on sub buns. (Leftovers freeze well)

Monkey Bread - Kristin & Jeff

My dear friend Kristin gave me this amazing recipe for Monkey Bread. It is a Christmas Morning Tradition in her family. A super simple recipe that can be made as kids unwrap presents this delightful bakery treat was a HUGE hit with the guys over for Beer Night last weekend.

Jordan was quite upset I had waited a year + before trying this super simply recipe. (My bad) It is amazing.

Recipe: Monkey Bread - A Christmas Morning Tradition =)

From: Krsitin & Jeff

Cooking Time 30 min.
Preheat oven to 350

2 Cans Biscuits
1 Cup Sugar
Cinnamon to taste (I used 2 tsp)
3/4 Cup Butter
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 TBSP maple syrup (I used the real stuff)

Cut each biscuit into quarters. Put 1 cup sugar & cinnamon into Ziploc bag, add cut biscuits & shake until well coated. Grease Bundt pan put biscuit pieces into pan & let rise.

Mix butter, brown sugar syrup & a little cinnamon in sauce pan over medium heat, bring to a boil.

Pour liquid over biscuits.

Bake at 350 for 30 mintues, remove from oven & let stand for 5 minutes.

Invert onto plate/platter - serve warm!

Can you make this 7-day menu with your grocery budget?

Friday, June 3, 2011

"WASHINGTON, June 2, 2011 – First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today unveiled the federal government’s new food icon, MyPlate, to serve as a reminder to help consumers make healthier food choices. MyPlate is a new generation icon with the intent to prompt consumers to think about building a healthy plate at meal times and to seek more information to help them do that by going to The new MyPlate icon emphasizes the fruit, vegetable, grains, protein and dairy food groups." excerpt from the USDA Press Release

Let me first say I am completely in favor of an updated symbol of healthy nutrition, the new-ish food pyramid (not pictured above) was confusing. This new plate graphic does work, but I'm sad to see the pyramid I grew up with go.

I was quite surprised by the Sample Menus for a 2000 Calorie Food Pattern. This document can be found on under News & Media.

The menu says that "While this 7-day menu provides the recommended amounts of food and key nutrients, it does so at a moderate cost. Based on national average food costs, adjusted for inflation to March 2011 prices, the cost of this menu is less than the average amount spent for food, per person, in a 4-person family."

This menu uses over 100 ingredients and quite often just a portion of a canned item... And, while I understand you would need to multiply that quantity by 4 I don't think the math makes this cost effective.
So - I've made a summary of all of the ingredients, and during lunch today I am going to try and price common sizes. What do you think, could you feed your family this 7-day menu on your current grocery budget?

What a find - recipes from Family & Friends

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I've been making the same few dishes over and over again.

Skillet Penne & Sausage
Homemade Pizza
Chicken Enchiladas (using canned sauce)

We love these meals - but I'm itching to make something new!

This past month, I came across a box of recipes from my bridal shower. It was stashed in my "wedding" closet - with my still muddy wedding dress, dried flowers, saved invitations, programs, & other misc wedding stuff you don't look at after the day is done. My Maid of Honor made sure that I had this library of recipes from family & friends, and I have yet to use it!

So, in June, I am going to do my best to use recipes provided to me by family and friends.

Did you send me a recipe? What was it?

White Chocolate Strawberry Tart of Awesomeness

Friday, May 27, 2011

*Note my editor is my wonderful husband, and he simply hasn't had the time to look these over lately, so if you are interested in editing my work let me know. Otherwise enjoy my unedited work until he has time, and keep your editorial comments to yourself.

I stumbled upon this site, which I hope won't get my blog blocked from your work browsers.

They have the most heavenly photos of food, and each image links back to a food blog. The Galley Gourmet was home to this decadent dessert - a White chocolate Strawberry Tart.

Just in time for Mother's Day I had found the perfect recipe for my FIL (who is allergic to chocolate). You see, white chocolate is not really chocolate - check out Winkipedia if you'd like to know more.

I thought my MIL wouldn't mind terribly much if I made a non-chocolate dessert so I got to work.

And, to top it off my mother would just LOVE this desert, since she is not only a strawberry fan but also dessert fan.

The dough recipe made quite a bit extra so I found my mini tart set and filled three mini tart pans. Unfortunately only 2 turned out - I think the third had the last bit of dough and it burnt fairly quickly.

Note: the dough will pull away from the pan a bit as it cooks - and then again when it cools. No worries, the pretty shape seems to hold.

The mousse was fairly straight forward and the filled tarts set beautifully in the fridge.

I had found 2lbs of strawberries on sale at the International Grocery (seriously the best place to shop once you find the things you need) So I had more than enough - but I was puzzled. How in the world do you get them to look THAT good? I used a small knife and started chopping - I didn't use the rounded "first" cuts - but saved those for my favorite on the go dessert. Then, I began to place them tip-out from the outside circle in - and guess what?

It didn't look too shabby!

Notice that as you lay the strawberries on-top of each other they tend to tilt upward ... I guess this is normal.

The final touch was a raspberry-lemon, glaze. which is super easy.. simply warm and then brush on.

The only thing I would change is the size of the tart. The tart crust is pretty difficult to cut but easy to chew. This recipe is probably better suited for mini deserts made in a tiny bite-sized tartlet pan. (which I don't have)

Leftovers: Chicken Salad Sandwich

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Step 1: Make a Passover dinner with homemade chicken broth for grandma's matzo ball soup. Reserve the chicken in a container (with bones and skin removed)

Step 2: 1/2 an hour before you need to leave for work in-between blow-drying and straightening your hair, start boiling eggs (bring to a boil, set aside for 10 min, ice bath for 5 min)
-finish you hair

Step 3: take container of leftover chicken out of the fridge and cube about a cup and half.

Step 4: add the things you love ... in this case 1/3 yellow onion, chives, flat leaf parsley, radishes sliced thinly, and 1/4 -1/2 cup mayo. Close container and shake to mix.

Step 5: pack the now chilled boiled egg, 1/4 loaf of bread, and finished salad and walk out of the door with 5 mins to spare.

Step 6: Enjoy.

Blueberry Muffins & Boyscout Camp

I haven't made blueberry muffins in years, but they are my favorite. This past week I made a batch for Jordan and I to take to work for snacks. To make them accessible, I used an empty cake stand with cover.

When I make them, I am reminded of Ransburg Boy Scout Camp. Yes, I (Jennifer) worked at a boyscout camp during the summer of '01 & '02. It was a wonderful retreat from life here in Indy.

When I make blueberry muffins I am reminded of walking down to the waterfront to use the kitchen in Enlow Hall. Sometimes after a staff meeting, and sometimes early in the morning so I could share them with friends for breakfast.

I think I tried every blueberry muffin mix that summer. Here are two I remember ---

Jiffy was by far the easiest mix - you see, I didn't have a measuring cup, or a mixing bowl. I had a large cereal bowl, a muffin pan, plastic silverware, and plastic cups. Anything that required straining or calculations wasn't going to work... at least not well. I made this mix so often I could eyeball the ingredients until the consistency "looked right"

This mix was a bit more difficult; first the whole box wouldn't fit in the bowl, and secondly the blueberries needed to be opened and then were supposed to be strained. But, it has streusel topping - so you bet if I had the time, this was the mix I picked up on my Thursday night out.

I have some fantastic memories of Ransburg, and maybe during one of my long weekends this summer I'll be able to head down and visit.

Beware of flying bad words!!!
- Kitchen Nightmares

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My inspiration for this post comes from our cousin, Kim.. her post this afternoon really just spoke to me.

Kim is going through a bit of a kitchen nightmare today. From her FB posts I can tell the day started out quite well with a visit to Kitchen Art to pick up newly sharpened knives. But, then it was all down hill her mandolin slicer broke, a light burnt out, and her chef'n spatula snapped. (I'm sure she'd be happy to accept donations of new items - including a new fridge)

I too have had these nightmare-ish kitchen days. So I thought I'd share in some of my (least)favorite kitchen stories.

Red Velvet Chocolate Cake - this cake still escapes me. I have tried two recipes and both have failed. The first, a Red Velvet Chiffon that looked like a baby hot pink nightmare (complete with a gooey edge). The second batch, a cupcake version caved in. I may or may not have had quite a few beverages before attempting this and I might have left out a key ingredient.

Gingerbread Cookie Dough - My food processor motor died while making this holiday staple. It came to a screeching halt while I was carefully adding molasses. I held onto it for another couple months hoping it would magically work. And, it did -- if you twisted it backwards a few times, it could process air like a champ for about 5 seconds. (Recently replaced with the KFP750 in White thanks to a gift card I won at work)

Stove top of melt-y-ness  - it is a REALLY good thing my husband has some experience fighting fires. Our flat-top stove top sits between the wall mounted oven and fridge. There isn't much counter space.....

We have melted the following items (there are probably more - don't judge)

Food packages - The Blue Box & Brats? It began with a hot mess of melted plastic (the brats were in a plastic bag), a trip to the store, scraping off the stove top, and an awful stench.

Plastic Containers - I had purchased this fantastic set of plastic storage containers to house delicious leftovers. And, well they melt really quickly on a warm burner. We have since switched to glass containers, but the lids are plastic.... and yes I'm pretty sure I've spent the night before Thanksgiving frantically scraping off a plastic lid from my poor stove-top :(

Rubber Spatulas - I have murdered two spatulas, once by placing it on a warm (but not on) burner, and the other time while cooking with a roommate. We both noticed the spatula kept getting smaller and smaller as we cooked. It seemed so odd, sure enough the darn thing had melted into the sauce.

I've learned that the key to removing the melted plastic goo is speed, water, a metal tool, and prayer. And, that value priced plastic melts REALLY fast.

The best solution however is to just make sure plastic NEVER touches the stove top.

So, please join me in telling Kim that she is not alone, and it will get better by sharing your kitchen nightmare(s).

Passover, Seder, and Jesus

My mom is Jewish, which makes me Jewish. I was raised Baptist. (Single mom working nights + great babysitters)

That said, I have fond memories of the Efromson family Seder here in Indianapolis and that one Passover at my Grandparents where some punk kid cut me in line as we searched for the hidden matza. I think I was 3 or 4 years old, and if I remember correctly earlier that evening I switched places with my uncle and took a HUGE gulp of wine, promptly spitting it out all over my grandmother’s good white linens.... everyone got a good laugh, but me.

This year we celebrated Easter with a Friday night Seder. It was a last minute brainstorm, complete with my mom franticly searching for my grandfather’s Haggadah (Reformed Judaism, sort of the non-denominational liberal-ish arm of Judaism from what I understand ... remember I was raised Baptist) She couldn't find the book, which was most likely subject to one of her "donation" sprees where big black trash bags full of "donations" end up in the garbage cans of local apartment complexes.

Luckily, I had saved a silver-covered traditional Haggadah complete with photos of odd looking little chubby men.

Now, back to the cooking. I had seen an article on Bon Appetite’s email newsletter "An Elegant Passover Menu for 6" which included an interesting recipe for Matzo Ball Soup. The fish and fancy salad they had listed didn’t really fit my... style. So, I searched a bit further on Bon Appetite’s site and found a REALLY awesome Gillette Fish recipe using Halibut (ps Halibut is NOT cheap). Armed with printouts of the recipes I headed to Meijer.

I found everything but lemon grass and a food processor (for the Torte, so I swapped it out for a NOT kosher leavened 4 layer lemon curd cake).

That night I made the fish… it was an interesting experience. Hobo Packets + expensive ingredients. This fish needed to be cooked the night before, cooled, and then refrigerated until served. I looked really good, and it smelled even better (everyone said they would have preferred it warm). Halibut with Carrots, Fennel, Lemon, and Garlic

The next day I headed to the International grocery to fetch lemon grass. I had a BIG day ahead of me, homemade chicken broth, a 4-tiered cake, finding the Haggadah (which I didn’t think of until 30 minutes before people were to arrive).

Somehow I pulled it off… but next year we are going to need a new Haggadah with post-its on the questions (our family’s favorite part).

Luckily, Uncle Dave has already ordered a Children’s Haggadah which is perfect, and doubles as a coloring book. I think we will order enough for everyone to have their own.

The Blue Box & Brats

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wow time goes by so quickly. And, today I was reminded that I am not always a wannabe gourmet cook. Dinner was Mac n' Cheese & Cheesy Brats.

The "real" blue box complete with powdered stuff. (We had a REALLY terrible incident last week with some fermented/expired Velveeta goo ... never again)

I was also reminded that Jordan doesn't really know how to make Mac n' Cheese and I have little clue when it comes to brats.

So here are the recipes from tonight.

The blue box (follow directions on the side, be sure not to pour the packet of "cheese" into the boiling water when adding the noodles)

Add 3 Brats + Can of Cheap Beer + Can (the beer can when empty) filled with water in a medium sauce pan. Bring to boil, simmer for about .... until Jordan thinks they are done (should be firm). Then broil on low until they are crispy brownish. (Turning as necessary)

Death By Chocolate Cake & a torch (Part 2)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ok let's see if I can pick up where I left off.

The next day I tried to get permission to leave early in order to finish the decadent chocolate cake (with no luck) after a quick grocery trip for more eggs & instant coffee (I went with Folgers ... it's what my mom always used so I figured it would be good enough). I then headed to the corner liquor store - and it wasn't my normal store because traffic was hellish. Instead of the friendly folks off of 10th, I decided to head to the store near Rockville ... mistake #167 ;) They couldn't tell me what a good dark rum was, nor could they show me where it was. So, I called my husband who was able to answer my plea for help (and who I should have just asked first). Somehow, I managed to find dark rum (I'll try and find the bottle to tell you what I bought) Finally, I was back in the kitchen by 7PM. I still needed to complete 4 more layers and assemble this masterpiece.

The brownie layer was a hot mess of complication... Sifting ingredients, melting various types of chocolate in a double boiler, balloon whisking eggs and such. But, I was able to get it in the oven without much trouble....vowing to use a box mix next time.

The ganache, mocha mousse and rum sauces all went together well. The mocha mousse was pretty much like the other mousse layer, but it didn't seem to hold together like the others... it was a bit runny after gingerly mixing the ingredients together. This time I was sure to rinse the bowl & attachment between the eggs and cream, so I wasn't sure what was going on... but, it tasted good so I shrugged my shoulders, covered it, and tossed it in the fridge hoping it would 'set' a bit.

In the midst of all this baking I asked Jordan, my lovely husband, for at least one more mixing bowl for the stand mixer. He kindly reminded me of my large collection of metal mixing bowls. Totally not the same thing. 

I took half of the rum sauce and put it in a container for work, the other half for home/small group (which we never made it to), and a small container for the boss to take home to his family.

Then, I figured it was time for assembly. It was 10:30 PM and I was still really excited to see how this turned out.

The first step was to cut the brownie layer in half. This odd-looking dense brownie layer did NOT want to be cut in half. I used my large bread knife and hoped for the best. I let out a cry of despair as the top layer ripped in two.  Not to worry I carefully pieced it back together as the bottom layer and let the Ganache layer hold it together.

Then the meringue layer needed to be trimmed just a bit to fit into the spring form pan. I found that the steak knife worked magic as trimming away bits without cracking the entire meringue.(ok maybe there was a small crack)

Then a few more layers of scooping and the final layer of brownie. It all appeared to be going well. The cake just fit in the pan and I was able to get it in the fridge without dropping it on the floor. 

Now to wait ......

And, wait......

An hour-and-a-half later at 12:30 in the morning, I decided to remove this masterpiece from the fridge and complete the final step: ganache, piping, and packing up 1/2 of it for work. I made it from the fridge to the counter spread on the remaining ganache, and returned it to the fridge. After waiting the prescribed 10 -15 minutes I removed the pan from the fridge yet again and then released the spring on the pan and began lifting the ring........

The ganache began to fracture and then the mousse started to ooze out from under the ring.

I was crushed, loudly crushed, with some choice words. My sleeping husband might have thought the world had ended. I quickly grabbed the two pieces of the spring form pan, shoved most of the cake back in place and shut the spring, returned the now HOT MESS of a cake back to the fridge. More choice words, and a few tears later, I shuffled off to our bedroom to cry/whine a bit about my ruined cake, and failure at cooking. Did I mention Jordan went to bed at 10PM, and had been sleeping soundly for 3 hours? This wonderful man listened to me, told me I wasn't a failure, and told me not to worry. He didn't just roll over, he didn't scold me for my fowl mouth -- he just made me feel better. Then, he rolled over and went back to sleep. 

I finally, returned to the kitchen to assess the damage. I began by cleaning the smears of mousse off the counter. Then I cleaned up the pan holding the Death By Chocolate Cake and the ooze that had fallen into the deep recesses of my fridge.... and as I cleaned I formulated a bit of a plan: If I could get the ganache to look a bit smoother I could just take the whole cake to work and serve it from the pan. It wouldn't be as pretty, but it would work. I just needed the top of the cake to not look like a train wreck and (to fix the now fractured ganache) my trusty crème brulee torch! I melted the now cracked mess of ganache until it was a smooth layer of chocolate. By 1:30 AM I had loaded the final layer of mousse into a piping bag, packed up serving utensils, and was off to bed.

Look forward to part 3 --- sometime in the future.

Spaghetti Whitt Style

Making Spaghetti for two can be quite a challenge. Cooking only 1/3 of the box of spaghetti is never enough and 1/2 is two much (I seriously might start counting the strands of spaghetti)

However I think I have the sauce combination down - 1/2 lb of hamburger 1/2 lb of hot/med spicy sausage and one small jar of sauce.

Death By Chocolate Cake & a torch (Part 1)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My boss's all time favorite cake, which I've heard him rave about for months, is Death by Chocolate. Recently I emailed the restaurant,  La Trellis, to see if they would FedEx us a cake. They said no.

Then, I thought about buying the La Trellis cookbook; but after googling I found several recipes online including this recipe from and this blog post from ButterYum -

At our training dinner this past Monday night my boss asked what, if anything, I'd be making for the group. You see, I've made something for every training group since I started 8 months ago (at first, just to use the massive amount of eggs sitting in my fridge but eventually it was to try new recipes).

The last group had Creme Brulee :)

During dinner our conversation turned to everyone's favorite recipes and the boss mentioned that cake..again. So, I did what any good cook would do - I googled it (yet again) and decided to try making this massive cake with an equally massive 6 pages of directions.

I could have simply made Cook's Illustrated's Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake ... for the 4th time this year, but, no I thought I'd be adventurous....

So following our dinner, I headed to the store to pick up heavy whipping cream and dark rum - I thought I had everything else I might need. When I finally got home around 8pm I realized I was short unsweetened chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate. So, off to the store again.

Then, I returned home and made the first two layers: coco meringue and chocolate mousse.

The coco meringue went surprisingly well and I even had the piping supplies to make it look neat. I used a round cake pan and not a cardboard cake round and LOVED when I realized I didn't have to cut out the traced circle. I also thought I'd be creative and pipe the left over meringue into ramekins. The recipe probably makes double (anyone have a 6- inch deep 9-inch spring-form pan?) but, I should have just made two 9-inch meringue circles -- the meringue in the ramekins crusted nicely but the inside was a gooey mess.

The chocolate mousse was going well until I decided not to rinse the mixer bowl between the whipping creme and egg white steps. (Note: milky eggs do not peak) So, I had to start over. And, then I noticed I was short some eggs...

Check back later for part 2 :)

Back to the Kitchen

Monday, March 7, 2011

I've been a terrible blogger. But, here goes a mini post to get me rolling again....

My Uncle Dave bought me this amazing new Cooking Light book/binder from Target. It is fantastic. His favorite recipe so far is Shepherd's Pie. It is a super simple recipe and can be made in under 20 minutes.

Here is the link to Cooking Light - there recipes are free to view so please check it out -

Grandma's Matzo Ball Soup

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I made what I believe is my Uncle Dave's favorite dish - Matzo Ball Soup. If you aren't Jewish &/or don't frequent Shapiro's Deli Matzo Ball Soup is simply Chicken & Dumplings with Matzo instead of flour. (sort of) You could also make dumplings instead of matzo balls & this soup would still be delicious (I wouldn't eat it -- but I'm sure it'd be fine). But we're Jewish and floury dough balls just don't hold a candle to Grandma's Matzo Ball Soup.

I actually wrote this one from memory - makes me happy to have a family recipe of sorts.

Here is a link to the recipe - Grandma's Matzo Ball Soup

Other resources -

Manischewitz the only Matzo Meal I've ever seen used
Low-Sodium Chicken Broth - the lowest we could find (Spotted at Target and the REALLY big Super Kroger in Speedway, IN)

And, remember if you are not in a community with a large Jewish population ask your grocer to order Matzo Meal - they will usually be able to get a small case with out any trouble. If not - you can buy it on :)

A week in photos! With recipe links to Cook's Illustrated Magazine

Thursday, January 27, 2011

So, this month has been a whirlwind - and I have sincerely slacked at posting. It is late, I'm tired, but I wanted to attempt to post SOMETHING this month of value ... so here it goes

This dish is light, yummy, and has a bit of texture I think is caused by the eggs. But, all around a nice balanced mousse that satisfies that desire for decadent chocolate and rich texture. The recipe link above will make three small Pyrex containers.

We made this for a last minute little dinner party. It fed six, and these were the left overs. We substituted the veggies. It was delicious, cost under $40, could have fed 8, AND took less than an hour to make.

A dear friend is getting married and as a bridesmaid I thought I'd pitch in and make something for her bridal shower. This is a photo of my cubed pound cake. I made two - and they turned out beautiful - with a nice crust on the top and all. (should have taken a photo) We used the cubes for dipping in a chocolate fountain, at least that was the plan - it turned into a crock pot when the fountain didn't work ;)

Half done, the batter tasted AMAZING. I can't wait to top these tomorrow after a LONG week and enjoy them with an amazing friend (and my husband too) The ramekins are a recent purchase using a Crate & Barrel card from another good friend, thank you Ashley - I was able to get all sorts of sizes, jars, etc with your fantastic gift. (hopefully you read this shout out)

Night :)

Cooking up a storm....

Monday, January 10, 2011

This past weekend I made the following

Chinese-Style Chicken Skewers with Hoisin-Sesame Dipping Sauce
Coconut Shrimp
Enchiladas Verdas (x2)
Chili Fixings for Slow Cooker
Classic Stuffed Pepper Fixings
Berry's & Cream (once with Cool Whip and Once with the real thing)
Eggs Benedict over Jowl Bacon

I have also competed the second week of 'meal' planning with my Uncle Dave and thought I'd share the worksheets i'm using.  Week 1 & Week 2

Last week the Soups were not made and the Turkey was never purchased but we (Uncle Dave, Mom, & I) all made an honest effort. This week I've prepped everything but the peppers for chili & I'm returning tonight to take care it... So Mom & Dave need only to use the slow cooker and warm up prepared meals for the rest of the week. To make sure things were heart healthy we are using Laura's Lean Ground Beef (on sale at both Target & Marsh) it has less sodium than the turkey and Uncle Dave will eat it. We are also adding in some poultry with chicken REALLY well cooked because mom and Uncle Dave both like texture (aka over cooked chicken) Also, when a recipe calls for salt, or cheese, or any other ingredient full of sodium, we are not using it (salt) or using low sodium/organic main brand substitute. WARNING low sodium store brands are FULL of sodium and are not good choices.

Here are some photos -- and I promise recipe links for those missing above sometime later this week.

Manic Monday - Food Edition?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I have been following this amazing blogger for a few years now -

She does a "Manic Monday" post where she blogs little did bits about her day, etc. So here we go with a little Manic Monday of my own.

Runts are delicious, and I don't know which Christmas Elf brought in the candy cane filled with them, but I have made about 10 trips to the snack table, and it is now empty - Thank you.

Did you know that O'charley's puts a salt liquid on their broccoli giving it more sodium than their Salmon? And, that a McDonald's Filet-O-Fish and Small Fry has less sodium than most 6-inch subs @ Subway? Check out this great app Unifed Lifestyle - Restaurants and check the facts for yourself.

Oh and those of you dieting to start the new year - watch out for Sodium loaded low-fat products they may have less calories but can really screw with your body. Better to go with a balanced portion of the real stuff. (it tastes better too)

Noticing the serious Low-sodium kick I'm on today. Well I've been working with my Uncle to figure out what he can and can not have post heart attack. So, look forward to some low-salt takes on recipes in the near future.

And, my husband went grocery shopping this weekend for me - only spent 38 bucks. I think it is AMAZING we 'save' on our grocery budget & I get to stay home.

My shoulder hurts from attempting to do push-ups. I can do a solid 10 and then I'm toast. My goal is 50 a day. . . we shall see.

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