Saturday, April 10, 2010

*Celebration of Chocolate*

As I was perusing through Borders looking through cookbooks and magazines for inspirations, I came across this The Best of Fine Cooking magazine. All about CHOCOLATE!!!

I knew I had to buy it. Now, as I skimmed through the magazine, recipe after recipe, image after image, got me excited to test it out. I knew I had to dedicate a blog post, and the entire month of April, to chocolate!

Here is the list of all the recipes that caught my eye and taste buds, along with the pictures that accompanied it...

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Mocha Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cookies
Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Bittersweet Mocha Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate Souffle Cookies

Pistachio-Chocolate Shortbread Wedges (except I want to substitute the pistachio for hazelnuts or macadamia nuts)

Chocolate Dipped Espresso Shortbread Cookies

Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Brownie Cream Cheese Bites

Double Chocolate Glazed Peppermint Brownies
Double Chocolate Chunk Fudge Brownies
Nutty Butterscotch & Chocolate Bars (aka Blondies)
Kahlua Fudge Bites
Hazelnut Toffee Squares

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes

Mocha Chip Cupcakes with Sour Cream Frosting

Chocolate Caramel Tart with Macadamia Nuts and Creme Fraiche Whipped Cream

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

Triple Chocolate Ice Cream Pie

Chocolate French Toast Sandwiches


Molten Lava Cake (even though it is not in this magazine I am adding it to this list, because I can)

I'm pretty sure I gained 5 pounds just writing this list.

After I make a dessert I will take a picture and blog about it of course. And if you have any suggestions on other chocolate dreams I should make or would like to suggest which dessert I should attempt, feel free to let me know.

Until then...

Happy Chocolate!

ps-all pictures are from The Best of Fine Cooking: Chocolate Magazine. please don't sue me :)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Dr. Seuss Red Velvet Cupcakes and Thin Mint Cheesecake Cupcakes

So I know it's been a while but March has taken a lot of my time. But have no fear, I have been practicing my mad culinary skillz. :)

Here are some cupcakes that I made for my kids at work. First up are my Thin Mint Cheesecake Cupcakes that I made for Saint Patrick's Day.

I took Martha Stewart's Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes from her cupcake book and substituted Girl Scout' Thin Mint Cookies for Oreos. Ah-MAY-zing. The kids were split, some loved it while others were thrown off by the cheesecake consistency.

Next up are my Dr. Seuss themed Red Velvet Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting.

This is what the batter looked like. Yes, it is very pink because I ran out of red food coloring. While it called for the an entire bottle's worth of food coloring, I was only able to get out 7-8 drops. It's ok, its only for the color and it was covered by the frosting, which, if I may say so myself, was delicious. Here is what the finish product looked like.

They were much more of a hit with my kids.

I also used a piping bag for my first time. I piped the red and cream buttercream on the cupcakes using a star tip and regular tip. It was definitely a challenge to make it smooth and perfect. I guess I have to practice to improve my complaints here!

Up next I am planning on making some S'more cupcakes inspired by another baking friend. But right now I got some Marshmallow Hazelnut brownies in the oven.

Happy Baking :)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

*Number Cakes*

"In the beginning, cupcakes were sometimes called "number" cakes, because they were easy to remember by the measurements of the ingredients it took to make them:

One cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, four eggs, one cup of milk, and one spoonful of soda."

A little excerpt from French's Bakery

I wanted to practice my baking and cupcake making skillz so I decided who would be better taste testers than my kids at work. So I went on a baking frenzy Thursday night. I decided to use Amy Sedaris' (hilarious) recipe that can be found here.

First, make sure butter and egg are at room temperature to ensure a moist cupcake. I creamed the butter so that it would be soft and workable and added the vanilla and egg. Then I beat in the sugar.

In a separate bowl I sifted the dry ingredients then added it to the wet ingredients a little at a time.

Add the milk, beat until cupcake like consistency and fill liner 1/2-2/3 full. Bake. And they should come out looking something like....


I also made the Chocolate Cupcake by following this recipe. It initially starts off like the vanilla cupcakes but after combining the wet ingredients you also add in the melted chocolate mixture.

As a little shortcut, I microwaved the butter and chocolate together to create the chocolate mixture. Add the chocolate to the wet ingredients. I also added in the sour cream to make the cupcake moist. Gradually combine the dry ingredients and pour until liner is 1/2 full.

And they will turn out like...

This! delish!

As for the icing, I opted to make a Vanilla Buttercream and Chocolate Ganache icing both found here.

Chop up the chocolate. I used Hershey's Milk Chocolate. Heat some heavy whipping cream to the point just prior to boiling. Pour cream into bowl with chocolate and let it sit to melt. After a little while mix it up good and add some pads of butter.

The buttercream frosting was actually my favorite thing to make out of all of this. I've never made it before and didn't realize how easy and straightforward it was. Butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and hot water. Beat it all together. Easy. Simple. NOMlicious!

So that was it for the baking part. I packed it all up and brought it in for my kids to decorate. Of course, I had to do one (or two) for myself to make sure it tasted good. This is what I came up with.

Moist. Tasty. Sweet. I can make cupcakes now. :)

And just for fun I'd thought I add some pics of my kids creations...

And of course, after all this baking your kitchen will look like this. I can't wait til I have my own sous chef to deal with this...

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

28 Dishes Later

So while I have succeeded so far on my project of cooking a different dish everyday this month, I have failed miserably in keeping my readers updated. So here is a quick run down of what I have made thus far, and a few have been pleasant surprises...

+ Scrambled Eggs w/ Feta Cheese--the feta cheese just adds so much more flavor. From now on, every scrambled egg dish that I make will have some feta in it

+ Scallops wrapped w/ prosciutto--first time I have ever made it...tasted delish! the saltiness of the prosciutto mixed perfectly with the scallops

+ Shrimp and Chicken Alfredo Pizza--another first, I added a little too much alfredo sauce...but it is definitely a keeper

+Chicken Cordon Bleu

+ Chocolate Fondue

These are dishes that I tried and need to work on a little...

Mac & Cheese w/ Bacon--contrary to popular belief, not everything is better with bacon...or maybe i just did something wrong

Coconut Shrimp--I think I overdid the coconut here. I combined the egg wash with a small amount of coconut milk, as well as, coated the shrimp with coconut flakes. it was a little sweet

Hash Browns--I tried making hash browns for the first time. sounded pretty easy, grate some potatoes, fry it 5 minutes per side in some bacon fat. didnt turn out so great.

And finally, in my first post about doing this project I explained how I wanted to master Jaime Oliver's Pizza:

Well, here is my take on it...


and after...

Let me just say....NOM NOM NOM NOM. The real surprise was the fried egg. The different flavors (artichokes, pizza sauce, crunchy crust, mozzarella cheese, and egg) made an explosion in your mouth like a little celebration.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

*SAD (Single Awareness Day) Dinner*

First, sorry about my lack of posts. It has been a busy couple of weeks...actually, month. Going to San Fransisco, work, school, cooking, and other things coming up I couldn't dedicate my time that this blogs deserve. I actually started this post (and another post about San Fransisco, but more on that soon) several times, but either got interrupted or lack of dedication. But have no fear, yours truly is back, and this time, with a vengeance.

So as all you lucky couples know, this past weekend was Valentine's Day. What my friend and I decided to do was to cook dinner for ourselves to celebrate our "choice" to not have a date. If I keep saying that then I might actually believe it :P

So anywho, our dinner date soon turned into a threesome, which quickly turned into a quintet when her parents
also decided to join us. I didn't mind and thought more the merrier. This way I get to cook for even more people and show off my bad@$ culinary skillz.

The menu that we decided with was Chicken Linguini w/ Alfredo sauce, Polenta w/ Marinara and Mozzarella, garlic and Parmesan bread, some steamed veggies and some wine. For dessert we had a chocolate fondue with strawberries, bananas, and angel food cake as dippables. All-in-all a pretty "romantic" dinner for five.

I was responsible for the pasta and dessert, one of which I have made many times and one that I did some research to make sure I knew what I was getting myself into. I'll let you decide which dish is which.

This is what the finished result looked like. I was very happy with the dinner. Hopefully, everyone else thought the same. What really caught me was the fondue. That turned out nomnomnommy!

It was basically like making a chocolate ganache. We used Hershey's chocolate bar, 2 milk and 1 dark. *Note-for any fondue do not use a chocolate with more than 68% cocoa* We set up a double boiler system. That's basically two pots, one on top of the other. In the bottom pan you want to have some water boiling and in the top pot (preferably a glass bowl) you want to cut up your chocolate and let the steam from the water melt it. In another pot you want to scald some heavy cream. Scalding is cooking liquid *almost* to the boiling point. Pour the heavy cream into the chocolate and mix away. Drop in 1-2 tablespoons of cold butter to give it a shine. You can also add in other flavors such as vanilla, some liqueur, or even hazelnut. The possibilities really are endless. As for dips, we used these three...

You could use whatever your heart desired to dunk into this chocolate goodness: marshmallows, pretzels, apples, graham crackers, oreos, brownies, cake, etc...
Melting Pot, eat your heart out!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

*28 Dishes Later...*

So I am 3 days in to my project and had nothing exciting to post...until now. The previous two nights I just created simple dishes, nothing too post worthy...just some good old steak and some brinner last night.


I was reading this magazine at work called "Cooking Light" while the kids were doing an art project. I was flipping through this magazine helping them find pictures when I came across this recipe. I would have skipped it like any other wannabe recipe, until I read the "rave reviews" that it got. I knew I had to check it out...and I am glad that I did. This recipe is definitely a must see...or a must eat.

Cooking Light's "Chicken Cordon Bleu"

I think the next time that I make it I will add little twists to make it mine. Like adding different spices in the broth or dry mix. Or maybe pre-seasoning the chicken with something to jazz it up. I dunno....but it was bomb! nomnomnomBOMB!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

ABC's of Cooking, Part II

A-a la plancha=a way of grilling, meaning grilled on a metal plate. It's a way of grilling food, usually steaks, on a very hot metal pan. Most chefs do this by turning their pan upside down on the stove and cooking the food on the back flat part of the pan.

B-bias=to cut at an angle

C-chiffonade=a knife technique; french for "made of rags;" done by rolling flat, leafy food so that it is easier to cut; the end result are long, thin, ribbon-like strips

D-demi glace=rich brown sauce in French cuisine used by itself or as a base for other sauce



G-garde manger=pronounced gard mah-zay; literally means one who keeps food. Preparation and presentation of usually cold foods, sometimes hot foods.






M-macerate=to soak food (usually fruit) in a liquid in order to infuse it with the liquid's flavor; usually done with rum, brandy, or liquer




Q-quinoa=pronounced keen-wah. Type of grain native to South America, similar to couscous










Friday, January 29, 2010

*28 Dishes Later*

I've decided to undertake in a little cooking project during the entire month of February. Basically, my goal is to create a new dish every time I cook, whether it is breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, appetizer, or a tasty treat. My one main rule is that I cannot create the same dish twice. So if I make a mushroom risotto one night, then I have to somehow mix it up and add something new to the mix, maybe some chicken, maybe some basil...I don't know, the possibilities are endless! What I hope to get out of this by February 28th is 28+ new dishes that I can add to my repertoire.

Here is a list of dishes that I already have in mind to challenge me come Monday...

Chicken Alfredo Pizza
Stuffed Peppers
Stuffed Mushrooms
Three Cheese Risotto
Coconut Shrimp
Mac & Cheese
Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Fiery Mango Salsa
Satay Sauce

I think the first dish that I want to try and make is from one of my favorite chefs, the naked chef, Jaime Oliver. I want to try his Prosciutto, Artichoke, Mozzarella Pizza with Egg

This has written all over it.

Please, if you have any suggestions or dishes you want me to try please leave me a note. I am open to all types of dishes and challenges. Until then, here is a little drink that I mixed up tonight just out of the blue...

Peppermint Cocoaffee

2 c favorite brewed coffee
1 c milk
1 candy cane, broken in to pieces
4 T coca powder
1 cinnamon stick
splash of vanilla extract

Introduce all ingredients in a pot and let steep for 4-5 minutes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Best Thing I Ever Ate...

If you are ever in LA then I highly recommend that you visit Henry's Hat in Hollywood. They have the best, Best, BEST ice cream sundae that I have ever tasted.

It's called their Three Scoop Banana Split.

The thing that won me over was the caramelized bananas. The sweetness of the bananas with the crunch and sweetness of the sugar was amazing by itself. Combine this with the creamy, smoothness of the neapolitan ice cream that was made locally is just heavenly. The dish also comes with two side cups of chocolate fudge and a strawberry fudge/jam. Take a bite with a little of everything and it is enough for your very own nomfest.

The first time I ever ordered it, my friends and I devoured it in record time and wanted we ordered another one. Best decision of my life. It is now one of my goals to recreate the caramelized bananas.

I want it now. In my mouth. nomnomnomnnomnomnnomnomnnom...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Did You Know...

...that you could leave the avocado pit in with your guacamole mixture to prevent oxidation, or browning?

Of course, that is what some people say. I have not yet tried this, and to be honest, am somewhat hesitant of this statement. I do not see how this could be true or if an avocado really is a super food. It probably is an old wives tale, one that I will debunk soon.