Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sweet Potato Casserole


Not to make you jealous or anything, but as you read this, I am sitting on the beach in Hawaii with my family. We are having a long Thanksgiving vacation on the white sandy beaches of Kauai. Aaahhhh . . . . Which mean the traditional Thanksgiving just went out the window. No cooking this year.

However, being the Thanksgiving purist that I am, I had to cook a traditional Turkey dinner before I left. So I will leave you with a small holiday recipe. You will never use marshmallows again with your sweet potatoes or yams, this is the recipe of all recipes for sweet potatoes. I had to compliment myself at least 5 times at the dinner table, not to mention all the other compliments.

6 large sweet potatoes or yams boiled, peeled and mashed (don't over cook!)
1/4 c butter melted
3 eggs
1/2 c sugar
1/2 t nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste.

1 c brown sugar
1/3 c flour
1 c chopped pecans
1/3 c butter
1 t cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. After the potatoes have cooled, add the eggs, sugar, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Blend with a hand mixer until smooth. Transfer into a oven proof baking dish. Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until the potatoes have puffed and set. Meanwhile combine the topping ingredients till well combined. Once you remove the potatoes from the oven, you can put the topping on and return it to the oven for 10 or 15 more minutes until the topping is browned and caramelized. However, the great thing about this recipe is you can make the casserole a day or two in advance. You can put the topping on cover it and put it in the fridge, and on the day of serving put it into the oven for 20-25 minutes till the topping is brown and caramelized.
This is what it looks like when you put it in the fridge, before you cook it the second time.

This recipe is so dang good! If you are responsible for bringing the yams to Thanksgiving dinner this year and you bring this, the host is going to secretly hate you for upstaging her, and you are going to love it!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pumpkin Cake Bites


These cake bites have been on my list a long time. It was Father's Day. I was at church. At our church they always give a small gift to the dads on Father's Day. Since Fairb was out of town, I didn't even bother to see what they were handing out. I friend of mine asked me later in the church service if I had tasted what they gave to the dads. When I said no, she gave me a look like I was missing something VERY important. So I immediately hunted some down. Luckily my own father goes to the same church and so I poached his gift. On a small plate were a variety of little truffles of different colors and flavors. I went for the yellow one, assuming it was something lemon. Oh my goodness, total ambrosia! Dense, moist lemon cake dipped in white chocolate. So of course I had to go for the rest. Red velvet, peanut butter, strawberry, mint, vanilla, and chocolate. As far as my dad was concerned, these cake bites never existed, they were all mine.
The first thing I did when I got home was to call the master mind behind these cake bites. I didn't even have to ask who had made these, it had Jodi's name all over them. She is a culinary genius (and a loyal reader of the blog, love ya Jodi!), and she managed to make to make probably 600 cake bites for all the dad's in our church (aka ward for all of you who speak Mo'). I demanded to know how she made them, to which she happily told me, ignoring the fact that I was acting completely manic. They have been on my mind ever since, but not till now have I tried to attempt them on my own, the flavor possibilities are endless with cake bites, and they are darn easy to do. Jodi told me the basic formula, bake a cake, mix crumbled cake with frosting or filling, shape into balls, dip in chocolate. The flavor combinations are endless.

First you must bake a cake. The first time I did this, I used a spiced cake mix, but the second time, the store (curse you wal-mart) didn't have a spice cake mix so I got a yellow cake mix and I liked it better.

Pumpkin Spice Cake

1 yellow box cake
1 T cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1/2 t clove

mix well, add;

4 eggs
4 oz cream cheese (half a pkg)
half can of pumpkin puree
1/2 c oil
1/4 c water

Beat until well combined. Bake in a cake pan at 350 degrees for about 40-45 minutes till done.

While the cake is baking, prepare cream cheese frosting;

1 8 0z package cream cheese, softened
3 T butter softened
1 t vanilla
2 1/2- 3 c powdered sugar

First beat the cream cheese and butter together till smooth. Add vanilla and beat till smooth. Add powdered sugar 1/2 c at a time and continue to beat. Add sugar till desired thickness and taste is reached.

Once the cake is done, while it is still warm, scoop the cake out into a large bowl. Add about 1 1/2 cups of the cream cheese frosting to the cake and combine well.

Once the cake mixture is cool enough to handle, using a mini ice cream scoop or a big spoon make ping pong size balls. Roll them in your hand to make them as round and as smooth as possible. Arrange them on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer. This recipe will make about 32-36 cake bites. You don't need to freeze them completely, but you want them hard, and cold enough that you can dip them in chocolate with ease.

Once the cake bites are chilled properly, it is time to melt the chocolate. I recommend using the dipping chocolate disks, and not chocolate chips. I melt my chocolate over simmering water, but I know you can melt them in the microwave (I don't have a microwave, I know, I know, I am weird, the microwave is the devils machine). It is time to dip. Just drop the cake bite into the chocolate and roll it around till coated. Scoop it out with a spoon and carefully roll it off the spoon back onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment.

Then you can garnish the tops with milk chocolate, sprinkles, or anything else fancy. Some friends of mine, turned their cake bites into eyeballs for Halloween.

These are divine, they taste like pumpkin pie with whipped cream. The good news about this recipe I gave you is that it make an amazing spiced pumpkin bunt cake.


Use the exact cake recipe and frosting recipe. Just bake it in a bunt pan for the same amount of time, just check it with a toothpick to make sure it is done. Use the same cream cheese frosting. Put the frosting in a pastry bag, or ziplock bag and chill the frosting before you pipe it onto the cake. You don't even need a pastry tip, just cut the end of the bag and run it in lines down the cake.

Can't wait to try my next flavor of cake bites. Thanks Jodi for introducing them to me!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

I am totally going to blog again . . . .maybe.

So you are probably a little annoyed by now. You have probably figured out I'm not in Kenya anymore, and that I am just being lazy. It's all true! The fact is, I have been cooking up a storm, but frankly, EATING the food is a lot easier than blogging about it. Did you know taking a picture of your dinner is a pain? Further, when your food is good, no one wants to wait around to take a picture before you eat it. Also, I never cook with recipes, which makes it a little difficult to write recipes. I actually have to REMEMBER what I did. Excuses. Excuses. Did you know I am the mother of 3 children who now go to school all day? Oh boy, the moment is finally here, and I have earned this! I can have 6 hours of unadulterated time in my kitchen if I so wish! (insert evil laugh).
The fact is, I am going to return to blogging, I really am. The plan, return November 10th. The goal, a great post once a week. So get excited, tell all your friends, follow my blog, and get cooking.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

wondering where I have been lately?

I've been in Kenya, visiting my parents, jump over to my mom's blog to read a little about it!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pulled Pork again


So I have blogged about pulled pork before, but now I am doing it for real. This recipe is the ultimate feed a crowd recipe on the cheap. I am making it constantly. Blue and Gold banquet (oh cub scouting you are the bane of my existence), big family parties, and other events. Last weekend I made it for the camera crew that came to film the human sling shot at my parents house (I will blog about that later) I buy a pork shoulder from Costco, you know the big ones, I forgot the weight. First I make a rub--

Pork Shoulder Rub

3 T salt
2 T pepper
3 T brown sugar
1 T Paprika
2 t dry mustard
2 t dried sage
1/2-1 t cayenne pepper (depending on how spice you like things)

Before you rub it on the shoulder, give the meat a few liberal drops of liquid smoke. I am not really sure what liquid smoke is, but it does make it taste smokey, so just use it. Rub the rub all over the shoulder, focusing on the non-fat side. Most people like to put the meat fat side up (that is the classic way) however, I go fat side down because I don't eat the fat, and I want the parts I eat to be nice and browned and tasty, so I go fat side down. Then add 2 or three onions quartered, add 7 or 8 garlic cloves sliced or smashed, and about 8 bay leaves.

This is one package from Costco, two came in one bag
Put in the oven for about 45 minutes at 450 degrees, then turn down to 200 degrees and cook for at least 12 hours covering it half way through ( I cooked this one for like 18 hours, but that was because I was lazy) . If you want it a little quicker, just turn up the heat, add some water and cover it (like 325 for 5 hours would work). Low and slow is best. You know it is done when it falls apart. Pulling it is a matter of putting on some gloves and letting fall apart between your finger, and discarding the fat. Run the drippings through a sieve and spread it over the meat. Now in my opinion, putting the barbecue sauce all over is a crime. It tastes good on its own, and serving BBQ sauce on the side is a perfect compliment.
It is great to make in advance and just reheat it in its own drippings. You too can have a great Blue and Gold banquet! You deserve it for all those merit badges you earned for your kid!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Beet Obsession


I have just realized that I really like beets. It started the invention of the romance salad. Next, upon reading Tom Colicchio's recipe book that Kris bought me in Vegas, it has a recipe of roasted beets. So I bought me some beets at wally world (aka wall mart) for future roasting. That evening, I forced Fairb to take me to a new restaurant that I have been dying to try, Communal in Provo. (did I mention that Grandma Vicki saved spring break and let the kids have a 4 day sleep over at her house? She is amazing!) He had roasted beets on the menu.
As a review for Communal, I thought it was fabulous. The beets were great, Utah trout cooked perfectly, and my husbands pot roast was to die for. It is a great little gem. What I loved about it is that you can tell that the restaurant is the Chef's pride and joy and all his dishes are all his little babies that he is so proud of. He served his roasted beets cold with some creme freche.
The next day I roasted my own beets and ate them hot with with a little butter. Delish! I saved the rest in the fridge to put in the next salad.

Roasted beets:


Peel and quarter the beats. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment or foil. Toss the beets with a little olive oil kosher salt and fresh pepper. Bake uncovered for 1 hour at 400 degrees. Serve warm with butter.
If you don't want red hands for a few days, wear gloves, which I did not do.
You will devour them, which will result in a surprise for you the next day when your are in the bathroom. Gross. I just ruined this blog post didn't I?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

White Bean Soup


I know I have been neglecting you all, of which I apologize. Just to make you insanely jealous, I took a girls trip to Las Vegas. I lost a TON of money . . . . at awesome restaurants!! My number one goal for the trip was to eat raw oysters every day. A goal I met. My other goal was to eat at Top Chef judge, Tom Collichio's restaurant, Craftsteak. Holy smokes! It was the best food of my life!! If you have never had Wayngu Beef (also known as Kobe Beef) it is to die for! All I want for Christmas is a Wayngu cow in my backyard ( is that even possible?) It was fabulous food, not to mention great company and lots of laughs (the highlight was when the waiter humiliated Emily by asking her if they could be facebook friends, she was red in the face for the rest of the night!!). We also ate at one of Wolfgang Puck's restaurants for lunch (can't remember the name, sorry). I was skeptical, once a chef starts putting out frozen foods I get a little concerned. However, the food was great. My friend ordered a white bean minestrone, which inspired this soup.

It is spring break and there is a foot of snow in my yard! So soup season isn't quite over yet. Now the annoying part of this recipe I created is that you really won't get the same soup unless you use the braising liquid from some pork ribs. Once you have removed the ribs from the pot, let the liquid cool enough that the fat solidifies and you can skim it from the top. Then strain the liquid from all the other stuff. What remains is a perfect stock for soup! The moral of the story is always save any braising liquid, always!!


1/2 lb white beans (northern beans) soaked overnight
4 c pork stock (or chicken stock)
1 can vegetable broth
2 c water
1 onion fine diced
1 c carrots fine diced
1 c celery fine diced
1/3 c flat leaf parsley minced
couple big handfuls of spinach
salt and pepper to taste

Start the beans cooking in the pork stock and water. Meanwhile, dice up the veggies (except spinach) and saute them in a little oil till fragrant season with salt and pepper. Add to boiling beans and turn down to medium low heat. Add parsley. Cook till beans are tender. Add spinach and cook a little longer. Taste for salt and pepper.

note: if you don't have your own fabulous stock, you might want to add some other seasoning like bay leaf, garlic, sage. . . .

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cheese Grits


Because I oversee the sunday school for the children at church (aka P. Prez) when the phone rings Sunday morning I usually cringe because I fear it is one of my primary teachers calling me to tell me they won't be there, and I will have to scramble to come up with a solution. Often though, I am wrong and it is someone calling me with a cooking question. When I take the call, I myself am usually putting my own Sunday dinner in the oven. So am so happy it's a cooking question and not a primary emergency! This Sunday, I was making a new recipe, cheese grits, that I got from my friend Dierdra. She is a very cautious and thoughtful person, the kind of person that ALWAYS writes a thank you note (I am the person who NEVER writes a thank you note). She is very sweet and mild mannered, but in moments (like bunko moments) goes wild and I have seen her fight like a pit bull for her children, she is great. She is also really fun to tease. So just as I was making the recipe she shared with me , the phone rang. It's Dierdra. Of course, as the polite person she is, she has to go into the, "so sorry to bother you" stuff. No bother, what is up? She was making my baked chicken and wanted to know if she could transfer the chicken into the crock pot after she had browned it in the oven.
"Ya, you can, but why not just cook it in the the oven?"
A hesitation.
"Oh Deirdre! You don't like to leave the house when the oven is on? You mean to tell me you have never left the house with the oven on?"
I continued to ridicule her, then I assured her that I leave to oven on EVERY Sunday when I'm at church. It was time for her to take a walk on the "wild side."
When I saw her at church, with a smile on her face, knowing I would be so proud, she told me that she was cooking the chicken in the oven. To which I said,
"Wait, you don't have a gas oven do you?"
The blood drained from her face . . .
I was just lucky she really did have a gas oven, or I wouldn't be able to tease her!
"Just kidding!! you'll be fine! Don't worry!!" She laughed, but in the back of her mind I could see she was imagining her house engulfed in flames.
Anyway, so this is Deirdre's Baked Cheese Grits recipe. What's great about this recipe, with addition of eggs, it kind of makes it like a soufflé. Really great.

1 c quick cooking cheese grits (cooked according to directions)
big handful of shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 t granulated garlic (approx. according to taste)
1 stick butter
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 c milk

Once grits are cooked, add cheese, garlic and butter. Give them a taste test. Let them cool. Once cooled, combine eggs and milk and add to the grits. Pour into a 2 quart buttered casserole dish. Optionally, sprinkle with paprika. Bake uncovered at 375 F for 1 hour. Top should be brown, and should look puffed up. Serves 8.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Shrimp Jambalaya with Chicken Sausage


So I am a newly minted member of a cooking club. This is a SERIOUS club, I mean it has a list of rules and everything. Which makes nervous because I have never been one to follow the rules, let alone read a list of rules. (speaking of, I better go read the rules!) What is great about the group, I don't even really know these people, but they are all major FOODIES. So last week we had our second get together which was southern cooking. I really didn't have any southern cooking recipes, so I asked the host to assign me something, and I would create a recipe. She gave me Jambalaya. This is something that I had never eaten, nor cooked. So I read a bunch of recipes and watched a few youtube videos and off I went to create a really great recipe. The meal was SOOO good, and I will be using some of the other recipes very soon . . . . . I just cut and pasted the recipe the way I brought it to the club meeting.

Shrimp Jambalaya w/ chicken sausage

Original recipe by Natalie Fairbourne

1 lb chicken sausage; sliced

1 med onion diced

1 small green pepper; diced

1 lb small shrimp (cooked or non)

1 small red pepper; diced

3 celery stocks; diced

1½ c long grain rice

1 lb small shrimp (cooked or raw)

28 oz can diced tomatoes

4-5 cloves garlic; minced

2 t salt

1 t pepper

2 t smoked paprika

¼ t cayenne pepper

2 c water

Heat oil in large skillet or pot that has a lid. If using raw sausage, begin by browning the sausage, add veggies and garlic and sauté till fragrant and soft. If using cooked sausage, add now and brown a little. Next add dry rice and toast the rice briefly. Add tomatoes seasonings and water. Heat to a simmer and cover with a lid and cook for about 20 minutes till rice is tender. Stirring occasionally. If using raw shrimp, add 5 minutes before rice is done. If using cooked, add just long enough to heat throughout before serving.

I used raw sausage and didn't slice it until it was cooked ( I fished it out of the jambalaya at the end and sliced it). As far as sausage goes, you could use any kind you want, just don't use an Italian, I think the fennel would throw off the flavors. I got my sausage at the Sunflower Market in Orem, they have an awesome selection of house made chicken sausages.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The recipe that shames me: Beef Stroganoff aka "slop"


I have been doing this blog for over a year, and I have never blogged about this dish. We eat this dish at least twice a month, and I have never blogged about it. It is my children's FAVORITE dinner, and I have never blogged about it. I often pre cook it and take it on family vacations because it is such a crowd pleaser, but I have never blogged about it. It is easily the quickest, yummiest way to to use leftover roast beef from sunday dinner, but I have never blogged about it. Why you ask? See the can? It shames me. Mormons all over the country have cases of these cans in their basement, and I am no different. To make matters worse, not only does the recipe call for "cream of mushroom soup" but a package of "lipton onion soup" a double wamie of bad Mormon cooking. Sure, I could make a great Beef Stroganoff from scratch with fresh mushrooms and onions, cream etc . . . but sometimes you just have to have a dish in your recipe box that is easy, no frills, no thinking, just feed your family and be done with it. That is what this recipe is the definition of "semi homemade" Now the only time I make this dinner is when I plenty of left over roast beef from sunday dinner. I ALWAYS cook more roasts then I will need for two reasons, 1) you never know who is showing up for dinner. 2) leftover roast beef is gold because it can be used for so many easy quick meals for the rest of the week. Beef stroganoff is one of those meals. So I am only describing how to make it in this context, you've got to have leftover roast beef and gravy, about the equivalent to about 2 lbs of meat.

Ingredient list

Leftover roast beef with gravy (about 2 lbs)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 pkg lipton onion soup
1 t dill
1 1/2 c sour cream
a little water if needed

Add everything but the sour cream into a sauce pan and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add sour cream. Serve over cooked rice.

The sad part is, its the dish I am the most ashamed of, and it is easily my family's favorite meal. I weep . . . . . Don't get me wrong, I like it too, but mama likes to show off her skills!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

lemon asparagus risotto


So I had some really great encounters with risotto lately. First was a lemon shrimp risotto at Sparks in downtown Provo, Utah. The second was a lobster risotto at Balthazar in New York City and the third was a mushroom risotto at an Italian restaurant called Rustico Ristorante in Telluride. Now it was time for me to try making it myself. Being so excited, I got all my ingredients together and off I went making some incredible gourmet lemon asparagus risotto. I was so proud of myself for pulling it off on my first try, it was truly a work of art. So it was time to serve it up for dinner. It was a given that the children weren't going to like it. Alta, who is my best eater, ate enough to be satisfied, the other children didn't even consider it. When Fairb came home he took a couple bites and shrugged his shoulders. "What's the deal?" I ask.
"I don't know, its rice. Just slimy rice. I couldn't eat very much of it" So these are the lamos I have to cook for. . . . . stayed tuned for the next post which is a recipe all lamos will like. Until then, try making this risotto. . . . .

Ingredient list
2 c arborio rice (Italian style rice)
6 c chicken stock
1 c dry white wine
1 small onion finely chopped
2 clove garlic minced
bunch of asparagus
1 lemon
4T butter
handful of Parmesan cheese
fresh ground pepper

Saute the onions and garlic in the butter, after a couple minutes add the rice and toast the rice until it is shiny, but not browned.

Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock to a simmer in a pot next to the risotto, keep it at a simmer. Prepare the asparagus by removing the woody ends. Chop off the tips and set aside. Chop the good parts of the stem into one inch pieces. Steam the tips over the chicken stock.

Once the rice is shiny, add the asparagus stems and add the wine and stir until the wine is nearly absorbed. Add a couple ladle fulls of hot stock, just to barely cover the rice.

Continue to stir as the stock absorbs ( I didn't go crazy with the stirring, just occasionally).

Once nearly absorbed, add more stock and repeat the process. Repeat the process until you taste the rice and it's al dente done. Somewhere in the middle of the process, add the juice from the lemon (you will use the zest at the end) You don't want the liquid completely absorbed, you want it a little runny still. Once the rice is done, add the remaining butter, a handful of cheese, and the asparagus tips. Top with lemon zest and fresh ground pepper.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentines Day!! Chocolate covered strawberries


Oh love day, me amore . . . . Happy Valentine's day to one and all. I think Valentine's Day is much more than romance, it to celebrate all forms of love. Actually, I just say that to justify how horribly unromantic my husband Fairb is. He needs about a week advance notice if he should be required to celebrate a holiday. I remind him at least 5 times for Mother's Day because Mother's Day is where I put my foot down. It is the most important holiday of the year as far as I am concerned. Today he went to costco for me (which is romantic in its self, because he rarely does errands for me) and when he got home, I asked him why he didn't get me flowers while he was there and he said, " I didn't know we were celebrating Valentines! You didn't tell me!" Oh well, if you expect your husband to be romantic when he is inherently inept, you will have a disastrous marriage. I love him just the way he is!

On a more romantic note, my niece and nephew are staying with us this weekend. Their family was scheduled to go to Disneyland for a cheer competition that my 9 year old nephew, Adam, was competing in. Christian and Sunni didn't want to go because they just transfered to a new school and just COULDN'T miss any days of school, lest they get even further behind. Imagine, young teenagers missing a trip to California at the expense of their studies. Ya right! The TRUE reason was soon revealed . . . . . the middle school Valentine's Dance!! They were sooo excited! They dressed in their best clothes, I curled Sunni's hair, Christian asked if Fairb had any cologne (sorry, no.) and they were off to the dance. Sunni is loved and adored by all boys, and she revels in it. She came back wearing a homemade bracelet a boy had given her. After the dance, Christian was so proud of himself. He said that before the dance he was scared to death of girls, but now? He has conquered his fear! He couldn't wait to tell us about all the girls he asked to dance. It was to great to hear and feel their excitement after the dance.

So tonight they helped me make chocolate covered strawberries and caramel and chocolate dipped pretzels.
I was at the grocery store and they were selling 3 chocolate strawberries for 6 bucks!! Oh no you didn'! Right next to the dipped strawberries were nice, big, ripe, cheap strawberries. So I scooped them up and rushed them home to couple them with all this chocolate I bought during Christmas when I had high expectations of myself to make all my neighbors fancy treats, and expectation I never met. Sorry neighbors. Your not getting any strawberries either, I am too greedy tonight.

Chocolate dipped strawberries are pretty self explanatory, but here are some good tips.

1-- In the past I have used the dipping chocolate that is the little chocolate disks, but its not the best tasting chocolate and it comes out a little waxy in my opinion. So this time I use the brick of chocolate that isn't as fool proof and you have to temper. The directions are seemly complicated, with all these temperature readings you have to take. I didn't mess with all that. This is how I melted it. I chopped up a pound of chocolate into chunks and put it in a bowl and placed over a pot of simmering water, making sure the bowl didn't touch the water. I reserved 3 oz chocolate. While it was melting I stirred it now and again (no one stirs "continually" do they?) once it was melted I removed it from the heat and let it sit for about 45 seconds. Then I dropped in the 3 oz chunk and stirred (that is basically how you "temper" chocolate). It came out perfect! The 3 oz chocolate doesn't melt completely, it is just a step in the process of tempering the chocolate.

2-- I washed the strawberries much earlier in the day and put them back in the fridge so they were cold and dry, ready to be dipped.

3- To add the pretty lines of the opposite color chocolate I put a few spoonfuls in a plastic bag and carefully snipped the tiniest bit of the end off.

4- I place the dipped chocolates on parchment paper.

5- For the pretzels, I melted caramel squares, and with help from a spoon, covered the pretzel rods in caramel and let them harden on Pam sprayed parchment before I dipped them in any chocolate.

6- With the left overs, I drizzled over some blueberries.

I I did reserve a little something to give to my
Visting Teachie's, to which Jason replied, "You're are visiting teacher?" That shows how awesome of a visiting teacher I am. Oops.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The romance salad


The only reason I call this the romance salad is because it has a lot of red components to it and its Valentine's Day soon, and because I am in love with it!! I served this at my fancy pants dinner and it was a hit. This recipe is my own creation, however, I stole the pear and beet idea from a salad I had at a UVU dinner party. I tell ya' the culinary arts department at UVU is incredible! They do awesome work.

Ingredient list:

Romane lettuce

pickled beets (buy the best quality you can preferably in a jar, not a can)

hearts of palm (which are not pictured in the photo, it was a delicious after thought)

candied pecans or marcona almonds (which are the white, more round almonds you don't buy them candied you candy them yourself by putting them in a frying pan with a little butter and sugar)

Red pears

For the dressing:
1 shallot
1/3 c red wine vinegar
1/4 c sugar
2/3 c vegetable oil
1 t salt

For the dressing, I sauteed the shallot quickly in a little oil. Just to remove the raw taste (optional). Add the shallot, vinegar, salt, and sugar to the blender, and blend till smooth. Slowly add the oil.

To prepare the salad
Chiffonade the romaine (my new fancy word for fine shred)
Drain and rinse the beets then fine dice (I used my nicer dicer)
Drain and fine dice the hearts of palm
Slice the pears like you were to slice a tomato for tomato slices

Toss the romaine in the vinaigrette. Put two slices of pear on the salad plate, top with the lettuce. Top with the lettuce with the remaining ingredients.

Its Amore!!

Fancy Pants Birthday Dinner!!


This weekend two of my dear friends both turned 29 (or something like that anyway). To celebrate I hosted a 5 course, fancy pants dinner. Our conversations however, were not fancy, it went from sex toys to poop to boob jobs and back again. We literally ate, cooked and talked for 5 hours!!

The Menu

Mini Crab cake for an amuse bouche (I really just wanted to say the phrase). I haven't written the recipe yet, stay tuned . . . .

The romance salad -- A chiffonade of romaine lettuce tossed with red wine vinaigrette, topped with pickled beets and hearts of palm and candied marcona almonds resting on ripe red pears. (wrote that fancy didn't I? I had to google "finely shredded" to get the fancy word "chiffonade")

For dessert a choice between creme brulee with fresh berries or bread pudding with rum sauce and fresh cream.


nan's notes: many of these recipes I went back and edited to make them even more perfect!! So check them out!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Boston Cream Cake


I know its called a "boston cream pie" but look at it, does it look like a pie? no, it looks like a cake. If a true baker doesn't use cake mixes, then I am not a true baker. However, I maintain that a cake mix is always the way to go. So you bakers can be snooty, and I can by smarty.

First make a yellow cake mix according to directions. I add either a 1/2 c of sour cream or yogurt to make the cake more moist. Bake them in two 9 inch rounds, and allow them to cook completely.

Make the filling:

one 3.9 oz box vanilla jello (small box)
1/2 a can of sweetened condensed milk (7 oz)
1 c water

Blend above ingredients till smooth and allow to set in the fridge. Meanwhile whip 1 1/2 c heavy whipping cream until stiff (no sugar added). Fold together the pudding mixture and the cream. This is the filling.

Make the ganache frosting.

1 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
16 oz chocolate chopped (any kind you like, milk, semi sweet, bitter . . .)

Bring whipping cream to a soft boil turn off and add the chopped chocolate and stir till smooth. Allow to cool down so it can thicken. The cooler it gets, the thicker it gets. If you leave it over night in the fridge it is spreadable. I allowed it to cool to pourable.

Assemble the cake by sandwiching the pudding between the two round cakes. Pour ganache over the cake. Reserve the remaining ganache to serve with the cake just in case people want extra chocolate.

Monday, February 1, 2010

peace out mom and dad, now who am I going to cook for?


One the biggest reasons I haven't been blogging much lately was because I was partying down with the family to the build up of my parents retiring in Africa. Saturday afternoon the weree off for new adventures saving the world.

Now who am I going to cook for? Mom and Dad came up 5 days a week for dinner, they showed up at 6 and were out the door by 6:30 with a smile on their face. My youngest son, Everett, knows no life where his grandma and grandpa weren't at the dinner table. I will be liable to burst into tears tonight if he asks if Grandma and Grandpa are coming to dinner.

I think one of the reason that people don't like to cook is because no one appreciates their effort. A mom goes to all this effort to prepare a healthy home cooked meal, and the kids are complaining. They want mac and cheese with hotdogs. The husband is indifferent and emotionless, when dinner is over he puts his plate in the sink and goes about his business. All the while, mom has barely just sat down to eat her own creation. Makes the whole thing no fun at all. Might as well be doing another under appreciated task like folding clothes (you mean those clothes don't magically appear back in the closet?)

Well in my case, I had two extremely grateful, food loving people to cook for!! I didn't have to cook plain boring food that only children like. They didn't mind when I experimented with new things, and always complimented the food. Having people like that really makes working the kitchen fun.

So alas, they are in Africa now. So thanks Mom and Dad for coming up to dinner every night (and paying for the food to boot!) and appreciating my efforts. I will miss you. I weep. I think after a couple of weeks of having your chairs empty at the dinner table, and I scrape the plates of the gourmet food my children didn't eat I will weep some more. I am proud of you guys and you two are the greatest examples to me and Fairb. At least now that they are gone, maybe they will read my blog for once! I will still cook the same fancy food, my kids can suck it. I don't do hot dogs, sorry kids.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I haven't died, and I certainly haven't starved to death!!

Yes, I still have been cooking, but no I haven't been blogging. Cooking is dang fun, blogging is only semi-fun. So much has been going on, so blogging is at the bottom of the list. Cooking however, is NEVER at the bottom of the list!!

A few highlights from the last couple months . . .

1. Got swine flu over thanksgiving, didn't cook a thing.

2. Christmas time was great, but did more skiing than cooking. Didn't open one present, it was so nice!!!

3. Went to NYC with my mom and sisters. Ate at Bobby Flay's restaurant, believe him and his throw downs, it was incredible!!! Went to a taping of the Rachael Ray show, they told me they probably aren't going to do "Hey Can You Cook?" What a bummer!! After watching her tape her show, I can frankly say, Martha Stewart was right, Ray Ray is a poser. Bobby Flay, not a poser, his restaurant was some of the best food I have ever had!! Also note, raw oysters are now officially my favorite food.

4. Went on a 5 day ski trip with my entire family in Telluride. The final party before my mom and dad move to Africa. It was a blast!! I cooked all the food (32 people), and witnessed my 6 and 8 year old ski double black diamonds and huck some pretty big jumps.

Anyhow, I am still cooking and still obsessed with this recipe but I have rigged me the master bread cooking system.


plus this

equals this


My enormous magnalite pot is my pride and glory. I bought this french bread pan at Williams and Sonoma. I took it to my dad's manufacturing plant and had them shave down the ends so it would fit perfectly inside the pot. So instead of making two round loafs, I can make two beautiful french bread loaves. So I raise the bread in the french bread pan, and when it is ready, I drop the whole pan straight into the hot magnalite pot and replace the lid.

I did make a small modification to the recipe since I posted it, My bread was always coming out a little flat. I think it was because the oven was too hot. So now I pre-heat at 450 degrees. After I put the loaves in (still in the Williams and Sonoma pan) I keep it at 450 the whole time, including when I remove the lid to let it brown. Lid on, 25 minutes, lid off 15 minutes.

This is darn good french bread. The crust has the crackle, and the bread is soft and chewy.

Anyhow, don't hate me if I don't blog. Oh wait, no one is reading anyway, so I should be good!