Saturday, March 23, 2013

Its been ages..

AGES!! I have neglected both of my blogs, big time. Actually I have not just neglected them, I have abandoned them completely. I have missed writing in them; oh how I've missed it. But because of being lazy time and other things, I have just given up. But guess what? I'm in culinary school now so what a better time to start back up then now. :) Yep, that's right, culinary school! I have wanted to do this for so many years. Cooking is a hobby that I immensely enjoy and Culinary school has been a dream of mine. A couple years back, I tried to do it but it just didnt work out. The school I chose was just too expensive. I knew there was one a little more local (up here in the 'burbs), but for some reason I was adverse to trying it out. Finally last summer I decided to do it. I couldnt believe how state of the art and beautiful the facility was! The classes were small and you still graduate with an AA in Culinary Arts (or pastry Arts, or Hospitality management...whatever you choose. The Chefs that teach are AMAZING. I can't belivee I waited so long. Cray! So here I am. I've taken 5 classes so far, after this semester is over in May it will be 6. I have already learned so very much and and so, so happy I chose to do it. I love it so much! I plan to blog through this. My experiences, recipes and trials and tribulations. As incredible as it is, it is also A LOT harder than I could have imagined. Its been a very humbling experience. So here's to me starting up my old new blog! Bon Appetit!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


What a FANTASTIC meal we had this year. Honestly the best I have ever had, hands down. Every single thing was made completely from scratch and the flavors went together so well. It was divine!

I was in charge of one of the turkeys, dressing, mashed potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, gravy and dessert. I got my inspiration this year from Bobby Flay and The Pioneer Woman's Thanksgiving Throwdown. Mike and I were drooling over the food so I chose the dishes that looked the best from the episode and replaced my normal recipes for these recipes. It was a GREAT decision!!
Mike did the turkey on the green egg, so I wont post that, its self explanatory!

The dressing I decided to make was SO FABULOUS! It was my favorite of the new recipes! It would go so well with a pork tenderloin for a nice meal. Sooooo delicious!!

Sourdough, Wild Mushroom and Bacon Dressing
by Bobby Flay

1 1/4 pounds sourdough bread, crusts trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 12 cups)
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, coarsely chopped
1/2 pound oyster mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound slab bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large Spanish onion, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 to 5 cups homemade chicken stock or low sodium canned chicken broth
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the bread onto a large baking sheet (or 2 smaller baking sheets) in an even layer and bake, stirring a few times, until lightly golden brown, about 12 minutes. Remove and let cool. Once cooled, put the cubes into a very large bowl.

Increase the heat to 375 degrees F. Combine the mushrooms in a large baking dish or baking sheet, toss with 3 tablespoons of the oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven, stirring several times, until soft and golden brown, about 25 minutes.

While the mushrooms are roasting, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of the canola oil in a large high-sided saute pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and the fat has rendered, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. (At this point, I threw the bacon out. I didn't want the bacon in there, just the drippings for the flavor!)

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the rendered fat in the saute pan and place back on the stove over high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add 3 cups of the chicken stock and the herbs, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer.

Add the mushrooms to the bread, and then add the onion/stock mixture, egg, salt and pepper, and gently stir until combined. The dressing should be very wet, add more stock as needed. Scrape the mixture into a buttered 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, and continue baking until the top is golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

I chose Pioneer Woman's mashed potatoes. First of all, they can be made ahead because after you mash them, you bake them....which makes serving them very easy! Second, there were so many fattening ingredients in them that I knew a) they had to be good and b) I would never make these normally! :) It was also a great choice. So very good!

Mashed Potatoes
by Ree Drummond

5 pounds Yukon gold or russet potatoes
1 1/2 sticks softened butter, plus more for baking
1 1/2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Milk, if needed, for thinning

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Peel the potatoes and rinse them in cold water. Chop the potatoes in fourths. Place the potatoes into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Drain the potatoes, and then return them to the pan. With the burner on low heat, mash the potatoes with a potato masher; the more steam that's released while you mash, the better. Mash for about 5 minutes. Turn off the burner.

Add the butter, cream cheese, half-and-half, and seasonings. Stir to combine, and if the mixture needs thinning, add milk. Check the seasonings, adding salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour the mashed potatoes into a large casserole pan. Dot the surface with butter. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 more minutes. Serve immediately.

The next recipe I decided on was Bobby Flay's Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranates and Vanilla-Pecan Butter. It didn't seem like my type of dish to be honest, but all the guests on the show were raving about them so I thought I would give them a try. They made a nice addition to the plate because of their slightly sweet but tart flavor. It broke up all that rich food! They were good, but I still prefer just roasted, salted ones!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranates and Vanilla-Pecan Butter
by Bobby Flay

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
1 lime, finely zested
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest

Combine the butter and vanilla bean seeds in a small bowl. Fold in the pecans and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the Brussels sprouts in a medium roasting pan and toss with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until lightly golden brown, 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, add the pomegranate molasses and stir to combine. Return to the oven and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes longer.

Transfer the sprouts to a large bowl, add the pomegranate seeds and lime and orange zests. Transfer to a platter and top with some of the Vanilla-Pecan butter.

The last recipe I used was Bobby Flay's Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce and Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise. It looked so good on the show, and I LOVE Bread Pudding, so I had my heart set on it. After reading the recipe though, I nearly changed my mind! Wow, there were so many steps! Not that I mind, but since I had a lot of other things to do, I almost saved this for another occasion, but as I said...I had my heart set on it so I couldn't wait to try it. It was very easy to make, just time consuming. I honestly can't even give it a good review because the caramel sauce got throw away during dinner clean up! The cleaner-upper thought it was gravy (It was similar in color) so it got dumped. Since that flavor was 1/3 of the recipe, I can't give this a fair review. The apple/caramel flavor would have changed the flavor completely! It was still good, but I think it would have been A LOT better with that tart apple flavor. Oh well, ill just have to make it again! ;)

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce and Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise
by Bobby Flay

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 cup pure canned pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons bourbon
Pumpkin Bread, toasted and cubed, recipe follows
Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise, recipe follows
Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce, recipe follows
Freshly whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Combine the cream, milk, vanilla bean and seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.

Whisk together the yolks, sugar, maple syrup, and pumpkin puree in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture until combined, remove the vanilla pod, and whisk in the bourbon. Strain the custard into a clean bowl.

Scatter the pumpkin bread cubes in a buttered 9 by 13-inch baking glass baking dish. Pour the custard over the bread, pressing down on the bread to totally submerge it in the custard. Let sit for 15 minutes to allow the bread to soak up some of the custard.

Place the pan in a larger roasting pan and pour hot tap water into the roasting pan until it comes half way up the sides of the glass dish. Bake until the sides are slightly puffed and the center jiggles slightly, about 1 hour.

Remove from the oven and water bath and cool on a baking rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Spoon some of the Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise into a shallow bowl, top with some of the bread pudding and drizzle with the Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce. Top with freshly whipped cream. Bread pudding is best served warm.

Pumpkin Bread:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
8 ounces (scant 1 cup) canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
2/3 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or lightly spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a small bowl.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the 4 tablespoons softened butter, sugar, and oil at high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times.

Add the pumpkin puree and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until just incorporated. At low speed, slowly add the flour mixture and water and mix until just combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 60 to 75 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a baking rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely.

Once the bread is cool, slice in half lengthwise, and then slice each half into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread the cubes on a large baking sheet and bake in a 325 degree oven until lightly toasted, turning once, about 20 minutes. Let cool.

Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise:
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
5 large egg yolks
1/3 cup pure cane sugar

Bring the half-and-half and vanilla bean and seeds to a simmer in a medium saucepan.

Whisk together the yolks and sugar in a medium bowl until at the pale ribbon stage. Slowly whisk in the hot half-and-half, return the mixture to the pot, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture coats the back of the spoon. Strain into a bowl and set over an ice bath. Stir until chilled. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce:
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup apple juice
1 star anise
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon apple schnapps

Combine the cream, apple juice, star anise, ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let steep for at least 20 minutes. Strain the mixture into a clean, small saucepan and place back over low heat while you make the caramel.

Combine the sugar, water and, vinegar in a medium saucepan over high heat and cook without stirring, until it's a deep amber color, about 8 minutes. Slowly whisk in the warm cream mixture a little at a time, and continue whisking until smooth. Add the apple schnapps and cook for 30 seconds longer. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm. The sauce can be made 2 days in advance and refrigerated. Reheat over low heat before serving.

See? WOW....a LOT of steps. But good! the process of making a Turkey and Andouille Sausage Gumbo with our Thanksgiving leftovers. So far our house is smelling fabulous. Check for recipe tomorrow! ;)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Clean out the fridge and pantry week

So this week was "clean out the fridge and pantry" week. One day was Shephard's Pie and another day was Steak Enchiladas. Both of these meals were made 100% from items from the fridge/freezer or using leftovers! And they were both so delicious!! I threw both of them together and they were both very good. Here's what I did...

Shepherd's Pie

1 - 1.5 lbs ground beef
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
Butter for saute...a couple T. (I used a spoonful of yogurt butter)
1 onion, diced
A big handful of baby carrots, diced
1-2 C. frozen peas (or corn or both...)
1/2 - 1 C. of beef broth (or more if necessary)
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Mashed potatoes (however you make them...we just had some leftover in the fridge)

Saute the onion and carrots over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until soft. Add meat and beans and cook until meat is no longer pink. Drain fat if necessary, then add peas, salt and pepper, Worcestershire and beef broth. Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes. Add more beef broth if you need to to keep it moist.

Place mixture in baking dish and top with mashed potatoes. If you're really fancy you can make marks/peaks in it with a fork so they will brown pretty. I didn't do that....I guess I'm not fancy. ;)

Cook at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes until bubbly and brown. If you're really, REALLY fancy you can broil for the last 5 minutes so your peaks will be nice and brown. DELISH!!

Although this looks like something Sixer may have thrown up, I assure you it doesn't taste like it. I really do love this. It is comfort food to the max. My kids seriously gobbled it up and Jacob said it was his "new favorite dinner". ENJOY!!

The very next night, I decided I needed to do something with all the steak that was left over from Mikes birthday dinner. I also had a bunch of cilantro left from when I made the teachers at P&E's school Deer Valley Turkey Chili that was about to go bad. And I had several packs of corn tortillas, because if you've ever looked in my meat drawer you know that on any given day I have 287534 packs of cheese, and even more packs of tortillas.

So, Steak "Enchiladas" it was! (Put in quotes because I made it in casserole form. I didn't feel like rolling enchiladas! But you could if you wanted.) Here's how I put them together....

Steak Enchiladas

About 2 lbs steak (I used sirloin, but you can use flank steak or any steak for that matter), cut into a 1/2 inch dice
1 small onion, diced
about 1/2 C. chopped cilantro
2 C. Monterrey jack cheese, shredded & divided
1/2 C. green salsa
16 corn tortillas
1 C. light sour cream
splash of milk
1 bunch cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded..(I roasted mine in the oven before seeding)
1 T. cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Saute steak in a small amount of oil until just heated. Add onion and cilantro and cook until onions begin to soften (about 5-10 mins). Remove from heat and add salsa and 1 C. cheese. Stir well and set aside.

Make cilantro sour cream sauce by adding the roasted, seeded jalapeno and the entire bunch of cilantro to a food processor. Pulse until combined and shredded. Add sour cream and splash of milk (to thin it) to a saucepan over medium low heat. Heat until it stars to smoke and then add cilantro/jalapeno mixture and cumin. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.

Spray a 9X13 pan with no stick cooking spray and then line with 8 tortillas. Pour steak mixture over the tortillas and top with remaining 8 tortillas. Pour sour cream sauce over the top and the top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and the edges have started to bubble.

Seriously yummy! Mike said "I cant wait for you to make this again!" And the children devoured it as well.

Deer Valley Turkey Chili

So, over 10 years ago (OMWow....cant believe its been that long...), Mike and I and a bunch of friends went to Utah to ski. One day we went to Deer Valley to ski and when we ate lunch, we got the pleasure of having their famous Turkey Chili. Man was it good!

I have thought about that chili for a long time, so I found a copy cat recipe online and made it for our Halloween get-together. Yummo!

Deer Valley Turkey Chili

2 cups dried black beans, rinsed or 2 cans black beans (rinsed and drained)(I used canned)
10 cups water
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 medium Anaheim chilies, seeded, chopped
2/3 cup chopped red onion
2/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
2/3 cup chopped celery
1 large leek (white part only), chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp oregano
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 tbsp chili powder
2 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp coriander
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
5 cups chicken stock or canned broth
2 1/4 cups frozen corn, thawed
4 cups diced cooked turkey (I used a rotisserie turkey breast)

grated cheese
chopped red onion
sour cream
chopped fresh cilantro

If using dried beans - Place black beans in large pot with enough cold water to cover by three inches. Let soak overnight. Drain beans. Return to pot. Add 10 cups water and pepper and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours. Drain beans and set aside. If using canned beans, start with the following paragraph (the veggies) and add beans later.

Melt butter in same pot over medium heat. Add Anaheim chilies, chopped onion, celery, bell pepper, leek, garlic and oregano. Cook until vegetables often, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add flour, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and sugar and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 4 cups stock and bring to simmer, stirring frequently. Puree 1 1/4 cups corn with remaining 1/2 cup stock in processor. Add puree to chili. Mix in black beans, turkey and remaining 1 cup corn. Simmer chili 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Ladle chili into bowls. Serve; passing toppings separately.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Crawfish Chowder

A fall staple in our house is this Crawfish Chowder. It is SOOO easy and so very good!

Potato, Corn and Crawfish Chowder
Serves 20

1 stick butter (I used yogurt butter)
1 onion, diced
1 T. garlic, chopped
1 T. cumin
2 lbs. crawfish tails
1 C. flour
1 quart chicken stock
1 C. tomato paste
1 quart heavy cream (I used no fat half & half)
2 C. potatoes, diced and blanched
3 C. fresh corn
1 C. green onions, chopped
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Cayenne to taste
¼ C. sherry
The juice of ½ lemon
**add 1 T. or more of Tony’s Seasoning

Melt butter in a heavy bottom soup pot. Sauté the onions and garlic until they are a little bit soft and then add cumin and crawfish tails briefly. Stir in the flour completely and stir constantly for a few minutes(to eliminate the flour-y taste). Then add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly for a few minutes more. Add the stock slowly, stirring continuously. The add the heavy cream (or half in half in my case). Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. You need to watch carefully while bringing it to a boil because if it boils too fast and rapidly it will curdle. It will still taste great, but it will look grainy and separated. Add the potatoes and corn and cook for 30 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and season to taste.

This is a Tim Creehan recipe and it is DELICIOUS!!! And not too bad for you either (as long as you use the no fat half & half). I did 3/4 of the recipe so we could eat on it for a few days. You don't need to do the whole thing unless you are having a houseful....because it makes so much! But it definitely warms the soul. Add a little hot sauce at cooking time and you are good to go. Yum!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Red Potato and Tomato Salad

I made this potato salad for a get together last weekend and it was DELISH! Much better (in my opinion) than a mayonnaise based potato salad. I served it with burgers and Tri Colo Orzo. YUMM-O!!

Red Potato and Tomato Salad

3 pounds baby red potatoes, halved (or quartered depending on the size)
2 pint (4 cups) cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup pitted black olives, halved
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
6 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large lemons, zested
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Add the potatoes to a medium saucepan with enough cold water to cover by at least 2 inches. Set the saucepan over medium heat. Bring the water to a boil and continue boiling until the potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and allow them to dry for 5 minutes.

In a serving bowl, add the potatoes, tomatoes, scallions, olives, parsley, capers, thyme, olive oil, and lemon zest. Toss gently until all the ingredients are coated and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Refrigerate for 1 hour and gently toss again before serving.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Banana Barbie!

Yesterday my baby turned 2. *sobs*

Let's not dwell on the fact that I will never have a baby nuzzled up in my neck again, or the fact that my 2-going-on-5 year old is already super divalicious, or the fact that the doctor yesterday at her check up suggested I get her into her own bed and take away her paci.

No, let's not dwell on those depressing things. Instead let's talk about how fun it is to play Barbies, shall we?

Girlfriend is OBSESSED with Barbies! Which is different for me because I never played with Barbies. I played with baby dolls and other things of the sort, but not Barbies. And at 2?? Aren't Barbie accessories too small for 2 year olds? But she insists and when I take her to the toy aisle, that's where she goes. So I have to face it, my life is Barbie right now.

So naturally I asked the baby Diva what kind of cake she wanted...thinking I was just talking to hear myself talk since no way at 2 she would have an idea of what kind of cake she wanted (I must have forgotten which 2 year old I was talking about). Her reply? "BARBIE!!"

So I used the banana cake recipe which is super simple and I knew she liked. I doubled the recipe. Made the regular 2 layer cake on bottom with 8 inch pans. Then baked 2 6 inch layers. The 6 inch layers, I iced the middle, shaved it to look like a skirt and then crumb coated it. The stacked it on top of the 8 inch layers and iced the whole thing. At the end....stuck a Barbie in the middle! It wasn't the best, but Eden was OH SO EXCITED! And wow was it ever easy.....

So....ta-da! Barbie cake. :) Enjoy!