Friday, April 28, 2006

You Must Subscribe Today!

This is the superlative, unparalleled and magnificent Cooks Illustrated Magazine. It is THE magazine to get if you love food, love to cook or are still learning the basics in the kitchen. I have learned so much from just breezing through an issue.

The format is easy to follow and the recipe are endlessly tested until perfected. There is a step by step explanation of the tests they performed, the failures and the final perfect result. I love that fact since I don't have the time to test and re-test recipes that I have messed up on in the past. There are some great tips for time savers and kitchen gadgets too!

The illustrations are wonderful as well, as you can see on the cover. You could even frame the covers for a beautiful piece of artwork to hang on your kitchen walls.

There website has some free recipes and you can order the magazine and cookbooks there as well...Click Here

I just recently ordered the 2005 full year of magazines bound in a hardcover with easy reference guides. I am supposed to get a Free Microplane Zester which I have been eyeing for a while. I always see the fancy chefs on the Food Network using them, I can't wait. I also have the chance to win a KitchenAid Mixer which I really want. I have used my Mom's many times-it's the best. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I Made It To The Big Time!

Remember those Italian Prune Cookies I made (a few blogs back)?

Well I submitted a photo of them to ALL RECIPES.COM and they put it up. I'm famous Check It Out!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

PRACTICE SAFE LUNCH. Use A Condiment...Sparingly!

It's great to give your food a little more "umpth", but be careful with those condiments. You could be adding too much sodium, extra fat and actually taking away from the great flavor of the food you're eating.

Do you remember that cartoon "Don't Drown Your Food" that Louis sang on Saturday mornings who taught us about nutrition? Go Here and click Don't Drown Your Food on the page

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sunday is Yumday!

I made three meals for Sunday because I couldn't decide what I felt like eating. It all started Friday at the market. I bought a bunch of brocoli rabe. It had a tag on it with a recipe for rabe pizza. I love white spinach pizza, so I thought the rabe might be good too. So I bought some mozzarella cheese and planned on making it. When I got home I realized the tag on the rabe had a different recipe on it. I grabbed the wrong one. The recipe was for Penne with Olives and Rabe. That sounded good too. I also had a roasted chicken breast and some puff pastry crust in the freezer that I've been wanting to use for Chicken Pot Pie.
What a dilemma. That's when it hit me, just make all three.

Last week I bought some pizza dough and didn't feel like making pizza so I shaped it, baked it, wrapped it up tightly and froze it plain. I knew it would come in handy. Since it was aready cooked, all I had to do is defrost it and prepare the rabe topping.

I started by washing the rabe and cutting it up in small pieces. Then I boiled it in a large pot of salted water for about 8 minutes. I took the rabe out with a slotted spoon and transferred it to a strainer. I reserved about half a cup of cooking water in a measuring cup and brought the pot of rabe water back up to a boil. Then added the pasta (I used a shape that looks like gnocci).

Next I sliced 4 large garlic cloves and chopped another 5 in small pieces(for the chicken pot pie). Heated 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and added the sliced garlic. Cooked it for about 2-3 minutes on medium low heat, and added some sliced olives, salt, pepper and the broccoli rabe. I took out about half of this mixture and set it aside. Now I added the reserved cooking liquid to the rabe in the pan, added my cooked pasta and mixed to coat. I transferred this to a serving bowl and added grated parmesan cheese. One done.

I added some grated Asiago Cheese to the reserved rabe mixture, brushed the top of my pizza crust with olive oil, added some mozzarella cheese and spread on the rabe. Added more mozzerella cheese and a little more oil. Put it in a 400 degree oven and cooked for about 10 minutes. Two Done.

Now the Chicken Pot Pie, on Friday I already prepared my veggies. Cleaned and chopped carrots, celery, mushrooms, and brocoli stems. I put the carrots, celery and brocoli in a small bowl and microwaved on low for about 6 minutes. So I melted 2 tablespoons of Smart Balance Spread and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cooked the mushrooms. I took them out of the pan and added the reserved chopped garlic. This cooked for about 2-3 minutes on medium low heat, then I added a 1/3 cup of flour and wisked for 2 minutes. Added one 14 ounce can of low sodium chicken broth, 1/3 cup of reserved rabe water, a splash of white wine, 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of mustard and dash of paprica. Cooked 10 minutes, added my chopped cooked chicken breast, cooked veggies and the cooked mushrooms.

This mixture went into a pie plate and was topped with the puff pastry. I brushed the top with a beaten egg and put in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Three done!

Mom provided the blueberry pie and I topped it with Breyer's Natural Vanilla Ice Cream. YUM!

So needless to say I won't be cooking this week with all these leftovers. I can't say I mind!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Tea Bag Trivia

Did You Know?
If you want to decrease the amount of caffine in your tea, steep it for one minute, discard the tea and steep again in new water. The first minute of steeping yeilds the most caffine. Good to know, huh? Let me know if you try it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

It's Food Haiku Tuesday!

Oh Food I Love You.
But Why Do You Torment Me?
Always On My Mind.

Monday, April 17, 2006

It Was A Great Easter...Thanks To My Friends On The Food Network

This Easter I had a little help from Rachel Ray and Giada DE Laurentiis on the Food Network. Rachel Ray hosts the show 30 Minute Meals which I usually watch daily at 6:00pm & 6:30pm. Giada DE Laurentiis is the host of Everyday Italian at 4:30pm. I tape it everyday and watch it at night. I had family over for Easter and served a Triple M BuddaBall Spiral Sliced Ham, and served one of Rachel Ray's recipes, the Roasted Baby Potatoes with Rosemary and two from Giada, Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice and the Chocolate Hazelnut Tart. All three recipes were fantastic. I altered them each to my taste.

For the Roasted Potatoes, I used her recipe, only I added sweet potato pieces, which I think really made this dish extra special. As the potatoes roasted the sugars from the sweet potatoes caramelized and added extra yumminess. I also cooked them about 15 minutes longer than she does because I like my potatoes golden brown and crunchy. They were delicious.
The Tomato Stuffed with Rice was as good as it looks. To simplify things, I used Uncle Ben's Ready Rice (Brown Rice). It takes 90 seconds to cook and the brown rice is much more nutricious than plain white rice. For you sceptics out there, you wouldn't even know it was brown rice because there are so many fresh herbs, cheese and seasonings that give it such a great flavor. Trust me. I even left the cheese out of one for a lactose intolerent relative and he still loved it.

When I saw the episode on the Chocolate Hazelnut Tart, I couldn't wait to make it. Easter was the perfect reason to try it. Instead of the frozen thawed crust Giada recommends, I used an organic chocolate ready crust. This worked out really well, although I had extra batter which I was afraid would overflow so I made another small square pan. In this pan I made my own crust using graham crackers and melted Smart Balance Spread. I actually liked this one even better. I have to say, the hazelnuts were a pain to peel but I guess it was worth it in the end. The texture is kind of like a peacan pie only a little more dry and dense. Deelish!

If you want to try these recipes, you can click on the underlined recipe names above-they are links. Try my alterations, I think you'll love them!

Italian Prune Cookies

These cookies rule. I have wanted make them for so long, but I didn't have a recipe. I finally made them for Easter. Although it was not an easy recipe to find.

Every time I did a search, Jewish Hamatachen would come up. I finally found one on all The recipe comes up as Prune and Raisin Filled Cookies. Here is the link I altered it by using canned prune puree in place of the raisin prune filling in the recipe,which made it a little easier.

I cut the recipe in half and I'm glad I did because it made three large loaves even with just the half recipe. These cookies are definitely a labor of love. The dough is a little difficult to work with. So if you love prune cookies make them, if not, go to your local Italian bakery. That's if they even make them. They are hard to find. Specialty Italian cookie stores are your best bet.

Monday, April 10, 2006

EASTER CAKE...It's Light and Delicious and Dressed For the Occasion!

What says Easter better than angel food cake with layers of fresh strawberries, mixed fruit and banana, all mixed with instant vanilla pudding and cool whip. I dusted shredded coconut on top and around the bottom and jazzed it up with food coloring and jelly beans. If I had peeps it would have been even cuter. Oh well there's always next year.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Attention Chocoholics, I MADE BROWNIES...

I don't normally use these easy pouch mixes because they have trans fats and a lot of foreign ingredients, BUT, last night I did. My mom bought it and gave it to me just for the heck of it. I asked her why and she said I don't know, I guess because they're easy and cheap.

She's right. They are cheap considering all the ingredients you would have to buy to make homemade brownies. The cocoa, sugar, flour, vanilla, etc.

And they are easy. All you need to do is add 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of water, and 1/4 cup of oil. I actually felt guilty making them because they are too easy.

Of course, I changed the recipe as always to suit my taste. (I think it's a control thing). I added 1/4 cup of unsweetened apple sauce in place of the oil to reduce the fat. Although I did add 1 tablespoon of oil, just for texture. I also added peanut butter chips. I know, THE FAT, but it's ok if they add more flavor and texture. I don't hate all fat, just the unnecessary ones.

They turned out pretty good for a pouch mix. However, if I really need a chocolately brownie fix I would make the ultimate recipe-ONE BOWL BROWNIES. The recipe is on the BAKERS CHOCOLATE BOX. If you are a chocoholic, you would flip over these brownies.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Ja'eat Yet?

Try a Frittata!

No, it's not a flying saucer or a moldy pizza. It is an open faced omelet. It is made with eggs, veggies and cheese or whatever you like that is left over in the fridge. It is a great quick dinner when you don't feel like cooking.

Start by sauting your veggies in a oven proof non-stick frying pan in some olive oil and butter, scrabble the eggs (about 2 per person), add them to the pan with the veggies. Add salt, pepper, whatever spices you like ( I use garlic powder and italian seasoning), and either shredded cheese or grated romano or parmigiano.

Pre-heat your boiler. Once the bottom is set place it under the broiler for about 2 minutes. That's it. Eat it with some nice crusty bread and call it a night.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Update On The Ugly But Tasty Cookie*

*See the Post below.
I may not be the best photographer but believe me the cookies are worth trying. I also forgot to mention that I altered the recipe a bit to make it lower in cholesterol and fat... I used 1 cup of Smart Balance in place of the butter. If your a purest when it comes to cookies by all means use the butter. But my tasters and I can attest the Smart Balance really works in this recipe.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The King Of Cookies

Attention Chocolate Chip Cookies Lovers. This could possible be the best cookie I have ever had the pleasure of making. It is chewy and delicious. I happened to be watching the food network this weekend and Alton Brown of Good Eats was babbling on about three different styles of chocolate chip cookies.

He called them the thin & cripsy, the soft & puffy and the chewy. Now I started to listen carefully. I have made a couple hundred batches of cookies in my life and have alway found it hard to master the chewy texture that I so desire. So when this scientifically inclined chef said there was a secret to the perfect cookie I watched with bated breath. Apparently the trick is to use bread flour (because there is more gluton, which makes things chewy) and to use more brown sugar than white sugar. The molasses in the brown sugar holds on to moisture and therefore translates to a moister cookie. Viola!

So I made them and I was actually surprised that I had time to take a picture in between eating them all. I even tried a variation on the recipe. Once the batter was mixed and ready for the chocolate chips, I divided it in half. I put chocolate chips, walnuts and coconut in one batch and cinnamon, raisins, coconut and walnuts in the other. What can I say, I like variety. I was in heaven. So do yourself a favor and go to and look up Good Eats.

The episode aired Saturday April 1st and Sunday April 2nd. Print out the recipe. Oh and by the way cut the cooking time down to about 10-12 minutes, my first couple of batches came out a little dark and crispy. Still good though. Enjoy!

Got ultra pasturized Milk?

If your like me, you can't stand the watery look and taste of skim milk. Well, get out your shopping lists-Hood Simply Smart® Fat Free Milk has found a way to make skim milk taste like 2%. It's a technique called ultra-filtration which removes some of the liquid that gives lowfat and fat free milks that watery effect. It even has 25% more natural protein and 20% more natural calcium than whole milk. It’s also low in cholesterol. Yee Ha! I use it in my cerel, in cooking and even baking. Of course there is a price to pay- It is a little more expensive than regular convenience store milk but it is worth it. Try it and you'll agree, even your milk mustache will look better.