Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The results of a cooking class...

George and I went to a cooking class last week at The Party Source. If you live in Cincinnati, you need to go and check this place out. Any liquor, wine, beer you have ever wanted and tons of great decorations for parties - and great fancy food.

They also have a great cooking school. You can take classes and learn great things...the classes are small and some are hands on, some are demos. For the demos, they bring out the food and pair it with drinks. Ummm...dinner and entertainment...what more can you ask for?

We went to a grilling class. George is trying to learn more about grilling, so one day he can take over the responsibility. Yea!!! This was a great class.

One of the dishes (and trust me, we'll be making the others too, so you will see those) was what we had tonight. Grilled flank steak with a chimichurri sauce. He also made grilled pineapple. I was going to make this, as it's George's new found love...but alas, my pineapple had gone bad. Look for this coming soon.

But...the steak. Flank steak, simply seasoned with Adobo seasoning. This was a new discovery for me. I love the flavor! I bought the pepper one, and it adds flavor, not heat.

And the tasty. But full of garlic and George isn't too into kissing me tonight. He didn't have any. sigh. :) That will have to be the sacrifice we make, as I will continue to eat this yummy stuff on lots of things...chicken, pork, sandwiches, salads. mmmmm.

Look at the great color!!

And the steak...a little on the rare side and mine was cold when I ate it, and it was yummy.

Here is the recipe:
(straight copied from Eric's - the teacher - notes.)

1 large bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley (he says to toss the stems, I usually leave quite a bit on)
4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 minced onion
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 palmfull fresh oregano
½ to 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Chop up the parsley a bit. This will make processing easier. Add parsley and garlic to food processor and hit the pulse button a few times to mince. Add remaining ingredients and pulse some more. Slowly pour oil through the chute, while taping away on the pulse button. Pulse just enough to where everything is mixed properly. When I stopped, the oil was just starting to emulsify, and that happened very quickly. I don’t find emulsification aesthetically pleasing with chimichurri.
If you like the fresh crisp flavor of parsley, use immediately. Letting it rest overnight will balance out the flavors.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

What to do with peaches going bad....

Clearly when you have peaches that haven't been eaten and are going bad, you should make peach pie!! Now, let's be clear...I have never done this before. A peach pie...heck, a pie. Well, I've made pies with pilsbury dough before...but this time, kinda from scratch. I used a mix from Crate&Barrel - from Barefoot Contessa. But it only had the flour mix in it, so I had to do the hard part...mixing in cut up butter and ice water. And roll it out.

The recipe was from and it was for Bride's Peach Pie. I thought that was appropriate. We are 2 months away, you know. is the peach mixture. I think it needed a little less nutmeg. I used fresh...maybe that was the problem.
Mixing the dough
The final product. I was happy! and the crust tasted great. It was a perfect dessert to take with us to the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra's concert at Devou. What a pleasant night!!

Oh...and this would be the mess in my oven bottom. Lesson learned...pies don't get baked in the little top oven, where there isn't a rack to place something to catch the drips. Or...wait until I get those cool mats I registered for that you place on the oven bottom to help with clean up.

1st Time Daring Baker making Eclairs

So...this was my first month as a Daring Baker!!! This is a group of people online who all make the same recipe...and then post the pics of the results and a few comments about the process. I'm a day late with with posting...but wanted everyone to see anyway!!

This month was an Eclair by Pierre Hermé. It was chosen by Tony Tahhan and Meetak of What's for lunch, Honey. You can see the recipe on their websites. You can also go over to the logo for the Daring Bakers on the right here and check out some of what the others have done!!

Let me say, they were good. Yummy. Rich. And almost too much chocolate for me. My mom and sister loved them. I was excited to make the Pate au choux - which is the pastry for eclairs...or cream puffs. I needed to let some of them cook just a bit more...they fell when I took them out.

I had visions of this being an all day was not. 3-4 hours...not bad for a first timer!!

Below are some pics....enjoy!!

I used Ghirardelli chocolate....

Mixing the Pate au choux

This is my empty the last minute I decided to buck up and mix the flour in by hand with a wooden spoon.

Here it is coming together in the pot...just like the recipe said it would! Have faith!
I used a pastry bag to pie out long rows of the Pate au chox, then froze them slightly and cut...made for more uniform pastries.

They came out of the oven...and looked great, mostly!

And some deflated on me.
glazing the tops of some of them

Final product with the chocolate pastry cream...

On a plate, ready to go!!

Farmer's Market goodies

I love going to the market. I went after the instructer for the course we took recommended the Covington one. Here is what I picked up....

purple and yellow peppers. I liked the purple. George preferred the yellow. The yellow tasted more like a green to me.
Basil. yummmm.
White peaches

Zinnias. love them. Next year I want to plant some along our back fence....

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Omnivore's Hundred

So, I haven't been doing a lot of cooking worth posting lately.

In fact, tonight, I let the local extension office of UK feed us. We got to taste all sorts of tomatoes and peaches and onions and apples and melons and peppers. It was so good. George is all gung-ho to grow apple and peach trees. I'm set to grow onions and peppers and melons and tomatoes. lol

I'm looking around and catching up on blogs tonight. I found this. I encourage you all to use it too!! I think it's interesting. I got it from so - it's English in nature. But let's go with it!!

(note: I started this....but I am just going to post it and then come back and mark those I wouldn't eat)

From the website...

Here’s what I want you to do:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding - ick. :(
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart - oddly enough, I'm not sure I have.
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl - I've had tons of chowder, but not in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Quick, Easy, Light

As I mentioned below, I was at a shower today. I knew I'd be gone most of the day and needed and easy "throw in the oven" I went to this recipe for Cheesy Chicken Shells - basically stuffed shells but with chicken, not beef or sausage.

George came back for seconds. Perhaps I should use that as a rating system...George's "come back for more". hmmmm.....
The picture looks weird, but they were indeed quick, easy, light and good!!

What to do with 2 lbs of Blueberries

At the store the other night, the sign called to me. 2 lbs of Blueberries for less than $4. I had to buy. Yes, I am easy - quickly influenced by marketing, simple as it might be. Keep in mind too that at that moment, I had no idea if George had tried blueberries - which means that he might or might not like them.

I got home and started pondering...pies, crisps, sauces, pancakes. But then this recipe was suggested to one of my favorite food blogs. I had to try it.

They were indeed easy. They were indeed tasty. I like them. Smittenkitten - where the recipe was from, has better let's just say mine looked like hers, but her pictures are better.


French Onion Dip

Onions....before carmalization...after tears.

George's cousin is pregnant and the shower was today. I had called to her mom earlier this week to ask if there was anything I could do to help. Victoria is a good person and always makes an effort to talk to me at family gatherings - so whatever I could do to help with the shower for her, I was willing.

Her mom mentioned french onion dip for the chips and I happily accepted. I decided this was a good chance to try out making it from scratch....and Alton Brown came to the rescue with this recipe.

Like the review mentioned - and really places like Food Network and All Recipes are some of the greatest places to get recipes because a thousand other people have tried it before you and suggest what makes it even better - I added more onions and adjusted the Sour Cream to Mayo ratio to more Scream, less mayo. And actually, I used Miracle Whip - as that's what I had. George thinks it's a little sweet. Vidalia Onions probably didn't help much with that. He was still eating what I brought home.

Pair it with some wavy chips, and you've got a great snack!!


At the farmers market, I just could not resist the basil. I have loved basil for as long as I can remember. I have tried to grow it, but alas, it flowers before I can use it up. So when someone else has grown it, I'm all for it.

As luck would have it, my mom gave me some fresh mozzarella. You can see where this is going right???

My favorite summer combo ever has to be tomatoes and basil and mozzarella. So good. This night, George and I decided on pizza. I got some Boboli crusts (I need to get some homemade pizza dough back into the freezer - it's so easy and so much cheaper) and we were on our way!!

Here's the result!


I love my crockpot. I just do.

I put in some ribs with some BBQ sauce.

10 hours later, we had dinner.

So good. I mean really good. The success here really depends on the sauce you use - use one you like. And find the ribs marked down..... cheap and easy.

What is this???

I bought this at the farmers market. I thought it was a heirloom tomato.

I sliced in and took a bite. It had no flavor and was bitter.....

I was so disappointed.

Simple Dinner

One night a week or so back, I was on my own for dinner. I didn't feel like getting things out and cooking and such for just me. I went with a simple dinner. Pimento cheese sandwiches and crispy green beans!

My mom convinced me when I was little that I didn't like pimento. Because she didn't think she like pimento.

We both love the taste now.

I have recently found a lite pimento cheese spread at Kroger. Spread a little on some wheat bread - and you have something that tastes fancy - but is quicker than a PBJ.
The Crispy Green Beans I got fromTrader Joes. Taste like green beans - but crispy. Kinda fun.
It was a decent dinner, for myself.

Dinner with Father Schnippel

This night, we had Fr. Kyle over for dinner. Kyle has been one of my friends from before he was Father - or even Deacon Schnippel. He will be celebrating our Wedding Mass. So, I asked him for dinner so we could start talking about some of the details.

I made a simple dinner....pecan crusted chicken breasts, mashed potatoes and salad - out of a bag. We laughed about that. He was a guest, but is clearly a good friend to be getting salad straight from a bag and not out of a bowl that we'd only have to turn around and wash. :)

Here are the pics!!

The chicken was good. Honey mustard helped keep the pecan mixture to the chicken. It didn't get AS crispy as I'd want. But it was a great mixture of flavors.

George made the tators! We used the KA mixture....weeee! They were buttery and yummy. Good work, honeybaby!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - Mac and Cheese with Ham and Broccoli

Not the greatest picture - and it isn't fancy, but honestly, this was fairly easy and pretty tasty!!

I asked George to try and make it...I think he was a little intimidated by making the white sauce. We'll have to build up to that. :)

Mac and Cheese with Ham and Broccoli

Ingredients: 4 quarts water
2 cups uncooked rotini (about 8 ounces corkscrew pasta)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups fat-free milk
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) cubed light processed cheese (such as Velveeta Light)
1 teaspoons mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chopped reduced-fat ham
Preparation Bring water to a boil in a large stockpot. Add pasta; cook 5 minutes. Add broccoli; cook an additional 5 minutes or until pasta is done; drain. While pasta cooks, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Place flour in a medium saucepan; gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Cook over medium heat 8 minutes or until mixture is thick, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in cheese and next 4 ingredients (cheese through pepper). Combine pasta mixture, cheese sauce, and ham.

Yield6 servings (serving size: 1 3/4 cups)

Nutritional InformationCALORIES 288(15% from fat); FAT 4.7g (sat 2.5g,mono 0.6g,poly 0.4g); IRON 2.5mg; CHOLESTEROL 23mg; CALCIUM 296mg; CARBOHYDRATE 42.6g; SODIUM 937mg; PROTEIN 19.1g; FIBER 2.6g

Monday, July 14, 2008: POKENO!!

Now I am sure that there are plenty people out there who don't know what Pokeno is. Basically, it's a cross between poker and bingo. Most importantly, however, it is a monthly gathering of close friends to share stories, their lives, laughter, tears and a few songs, even. The host for the month makes dinner for everyone - and buys the prizes.
Well - it was my month!!!
The menu consisted of the makings of a salad bar, melon salad with orange lime dressing, and cheesecake on a stick.

The salad bar was inspired by an excellent salad that I used to get at Portillo's in Chicago - a chopped salad with chicken and bacon and blue cheese and an amazing balsamic vinagrette. Another message board person perfected the recipe and it's now one of my favs! I also added croutons, regular cheese, all sorts of options for the Pokeno salad bar.

Chopped Salad


1/3 pound Dole Iceberg Lettuce
3 cup romaine lettuce
1/4 cup Dole Green Onions
1 cup red cabbage
1 cup sweet red pepper(s)
chopped tomatoes
2 1/2 oz gorgonzola cheese
5 oz cooked chicken fillet
2 tsp bacon bits
1/2 cup Eden Organic Kamut ditalini
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 clove garlic clove(s)
1/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp Durkee Pepper, Black Ground
1/2 tsp ground oregano
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions mix together all of the salad ingredients - lettuces, cabbage, peppers, green onions, tomatoes, bacon, gorgonzola, pastaput balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, sugar all in blender. mix. drizzle in EVOO while running until emulsified.

The melon salad is a Pampered Chef Recipe - while I was cleaning out the cookbook pile I have, I found all of my recipes that have come with all the Pampered Chef things I have...this came from the Utility Knife. I liked it better after it had sat for a day in the fridge. The cantaloupe wasn't as ripe as I had hoped - so the dressing helped that.

Melon Salad with Orange-Lime Dressing

1/4 c frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
6 T lime juice
2 t lime zest
1/2 t vanilla
1 cantaloupe
1 honeydew melon
2 c seedless red grapes

Combine the OJ, lime juice, zest and vanilla. Chop up melon and place it and grapes into large bowl. Toss with dressing.

So simple - and really tasty!!

Then for the cheesecake on a stick!! I have been browsing blogs that are food related and I found out that there is a group called the Daring Bakers. Turns out that they all bake the smae thing during the month and then post it on a set day. A few months back they made these. So I tried it out - and decided that I am going to try and join them in be looking for that! But for now...the cheesecake.

The cheesecake was great - the process was a little difficult, but worth it. And George loves cheesecake - so he approved!!

I'm not going to post the whole recipe and process...but here are the pictures!!

First I baked it in a Bain Marie
Then I rolled them, dipped them in chocolate, white chocolate, and peanut butter - and then sprinkles!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

It's been awhile! This weekend had been busy as I prepared for hosting Pokeno and giving the house a deep clean. So, Sunday night I made some comfort food, suggested by a message board friend.

It's called Toad In A Hole and she got it off of a website called

We liked it - but both felt like it needed a little "something" in the bread top - some seasoning of some sort. But it was easy and fairly cheap....and gives one a good excuse to use a cast iron skillet.

Toad in a Hole

POINTS® Value: 6

Servings: 8


1 pound raw turkey sausage

2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp table salt

2 egg

2 1/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup shredded fat-free cheddar cheese

Instructions: Fry the sausage in a large iron skillet. You can shape it into patties first if you like, or just smash it into little pieces as you cook it. Be sure to cook it all the way through.

While the sausage is frying, get out a bowl. In it, combine the flour, salt, eggs, and milk. Stir it up really well, so the batter is creamy and smooth. You can combine this batter in the blender if you prefer.

When the sausage is done cooking, drain off most of the fat. You will need a little fat left in the pan to make this dish, so don't drain off all of the fat. Next pour the batter into the hot skillet, over and around the cooked sausage.

Bake the mixture at 450 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top for the last 5 minutes of baking. The bread will be puffed up around the sausage like a giant popover. It will be golden brown and crispy all over.

Cut the dish into 8 wedges and serve.

Monday, July 7, 2008

T-bones, grilled onions, baked potatoes, salads, heaven

I am a big fan of the markdown section in the meat department. I always stop, check it out, look at dates, ponder if I can make something out of it - or get it to a freezer fast. That's how we ended up with 2 big T-Bone steaks. They called to me, they called to my grill.
So, George heated up the grill and baked the potatoes and marinaded his new favorite veggie - mushrooms.
Sidenote: I don't like mushrooms. I just don't. I don't understand them. And while I pride myself in being able to cook nearly anything simple and basic....I never paid attention to the mushroom. So now, my Fiance who likes a very limited number of veggies decides he likes these. I'm in a crash course learning how to cook them!! Tonight - marinade in teryaki and then grill.

Anyway - Steaks dressed simply with pepper, salt, garlic powder. Onions sliced thicked, drizzled with canola oil and sprinkled with salt. Thrown on the grill. This is my new fav side dish. Anytime I fire up the grill, onions are usually a part of it. The yummy soft texture and sweet flavor that just melts in my mouth. So simple and easy.

Baked potato with butter, salt and pepper.

Salad with leftover grilled red and orange peppers and onions, tomato, and ranch dressing.

Life doesn't get better than this on a summer night.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

New Appliances = Inspiring!!

So this weekend we got our new appliances. George and I spent weeks looking and debating and researching and drooling - and now they are finally here!!! And early wedding present from his mom...generous and appreciated and sooo exciting!

Aren't they beautiful? Should I name them - like a car??

Now that I have rearranged the cupboards that I lost due to the height of the fridge and the addition of the hood/microwave, I have the time to figure out what I really want to use these wonders to create!! I'm open to suggestions.

Today, we christaned the stove top with bacon and the oven with monkey bread - a breakfast favorite and totally unhealthy. Monkey bread is my mom's trademark. She makes it on vacation - have bundt pan, will travel. I remember when she got the recipe for the first time - at a Tupperware party she hosted. Since then - in the early 80s - it has been THE celebratory breakfast food. This is what is left of ours from this morning.

Then, this afternoon, I matched George's request for cookies - and tried Paula Deen's Coconut White Chocolate cookie recipe.

I should have read the reviews first - as they were indeed a little drier than I had hoped - but they are still good.
Looking over the day - perhaps I need to get back on track towards the healthy!!

We'll see what this week brings us - I can't wait!!