Thursday, November 19, 2009

Good News for Pizza Lovers!

The other day, a friend told me she had successfully baked her homemade pizza on parchment paper—which entirely eliminated the oh-so-awkward transfer of the pizza from the peel to the stone. Of course, I couldn't resist trying it immediately, so I did, and (drumroll please) she was right!

Preheat oven to 425. Simply spread some parchment paper over your pizza peel, sprinkle cornmeal, roll out the dough, and add toppings. Roughly trim the edges of the paper to about an inch from the crust, creating a circle instead of a square of parchment paper underneath the dough. Then relish the ease with which you slide the pizza onto the preheated stone!

The only disadvantage is that you can't crank the oven up as high, because parchment paper isn't meant to be heated above 425. But especially if you place the stone on the bottom rack, you should have no problem getting a nice, crispy crust nonetheless.

Just so no one sues me if the parchment paper somehow ignites in your oven, please keep an eye on it the first time you try this. Don't throw the pizza in the oven and leave for 40 minutes. (But really, who would do that??)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Jamba Juice's Blackberry Bliss?

I can't claim this is exact, but I don't think you'll miss the resemblance in flavor when you try it. The Blackberry Bliss is my husband's favorite at Jamba right now, so we had to give it a whirl at home. Plus, what's better is that it's WAY healthier! Thanks to the spinach and ground flax (which you won't notice!), you won't even feel guilty slurping this baby down!

First, puree the following in your blender:
2 cups spinach
1/2 cup water

Add the following, and begin pulsing.
1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries
1/2 cups frozen mixed berries
6 blackberries
1/2 cup pineapple
1/4 cup yogurt
1/4 cup sugar (plus a couple of Tablespoons, depending on how sweet you like it.)
3 Tablespoons ground flax

Lastly, add water and blend to get the smoothie to the right consistency (I'll say about 3/4 cup, added gradually. But that will depend on whether all of your fruit was frozen or not.)

Let me know what you think!

Maybe this will help negate all the nutella I've eaten lately...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hot Chocolate

Happy Sunday! I made sugar cookies tonight. Someone please remind me next time I want to make them to just wait until my kids are old enough to enjoy it. The millions of steps with a clingy, grabby toddler is just not worth it! I was amazed at how many cookies that kid managed to stick his hands in, even when I thought they were out of reach! (He also somehow grabbed my cell phone and threw it squarely into a freshly frosted cookie...but hey, that's just life with a toddler!)

So, as chilly weather is slowly but surely coming my way, I am elated the hot chocolate season is beginning! My new obsession is perfecting the art of GREAT hot chocolate. We used to frequent Hatch's Family Chocolates in Salt Lake City and the South Bend Chocolate Cafe when we lived in South Bend, Indiana. Their hot chocolates taste like straight-up melted European chocolate. (None of this Hershey's stuff.) Mmmmmm!

Thank you, Google Images, for the photo. It was too dark to take a photo of my concoction last night.

So far, this is what I've learned about making fabulous homemade hot cocoa.
  1. Start with a chunk of GREAT chocolate. We just bought a few ounces of Gittuird __ at our beloved Milk Pail in Palo Alto. (Amazingly, the chocolate cost $1.45) Cut the chocolate into small pieces.
  2. Put milk and chocolate slivers in a small saucepan—about 1 ounce of chocolate per cup of milk. Add a couple of T. sugar, depending on your sweetness preference.
  3. Heat milk until it is hot but not bubbling. Stir frequently.
  4. Toward the end, add a bunch of mini marshmallows and allow them to melt partially so the cocoa gets good and frothy!
  5. Serve with a cinnamon stick for stirring. Enjoy!

And as a side note... It's a boy!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce

...with an announcement on the side!

Hi everyone! I can't tell you how much I've missed frequently updating this blog...But there's not a lot I can do because nothing I can make ever sounds good and what I do make usually doesn't turn out. If you don't already know, I'm expecting again! We are excited!

My pregnancy has been nothing to complain about by any means, but I so miss COOKING! I scour food blogs for meals that sound good, but rarely does something strike my fancy. Interestingly, all food outside of this house sounds delicious... As long as I don't have to make it or clean it up, I'm happy! Maybe I should turn this blog into a restaurant review blog for the rest of my pregnancy...

BUT, fall is my favorite season for cooking and baking, so maybe my tastes buds will start being my friends again soon. :)

Even with all that said, this homemade applesauce hit the spot!

Cinnamon Applesauce
7 apples, peeled, cored and diced (I used 5 Mackintosh and 2 Honeycrisp)
1 cup (or less) water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Combine all ingredients, and let simmer on medium heat, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until apples are tender. Stir about every five minutes. Mash with a whisk when finished cooking, and enjoy!

A few tips:
  • The sweeter the apples, the less sugar you have to use. Talk to your produce man!
  • I suggest starting with less than a cup of water and seeing if you need more as the cooking goes on. Who wants watery applesauce??
  • As you can see from the pic, I like my applesauce to taste and look homemade, which is why I leave some rustic chunks in. Mash to your desired consistency. :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kitchen Tip: Baked Chimichangas

New and healthier cooking method! Baked Chimichangas! It's a simple but pretty sweet idea. Why didn't I do this earlier?? Simply wrap the chimis like you normally do, lay them on the baking sheet, and brush lightly with canola oil. Then bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until golden and crispy.

Check out that photo—Can you even tell it's not fried?

Cheers for lower cholesterol!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Arugula

While I'm on a tomato/basil kick, I might as well go all the way and share another favorite. This is a simple, light meal you can make the next time you get home from a farmers' market. Click on over to this New York Times recipe. Try using Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta for extra fiber—it's available all over the place. Thanks for stopping by!

PS. I forgot the arugula today, which is why isn't not in the photo. :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Balsamic Bruschetta

The best thing I've bought all summer was a $2.99 basil plant at Trader Joe's. Just looking at it on the patio makes me happy. We've had some fabulous margarita pizza and bruschetta since the basil plant joined the family.

Don't you just love bruschetta?? Basil, tomatoes, and garlic on french bread—what's not to love? This is a great, simple recipe that is a snap to make yet tastes so fresh and flavorful that you won't stop eating until the bowl is clean.

Balsamic Bruschetta

8 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf French bread, toasted and sliced

Combine everything, toast the bread, and enjoy! Rub the toasted bread with a cut clove of garlic and drizzle with a little olive oil for some extra flavor. If you let the bruschetta sit in the fridge for an hour or two, it will taste even better.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Chili Frito Pie

A great way to eat chili.

Did anyone else grow up on chili frito pie? Seriously, I'm curious! I haven't made this in a long time, but tonight Ryan was working late and I felt like cuddling up with something warm and homey. Few things take me back to my growing up years like chili frito pie.

My mom makes a super-simple, weeknight chili that only involves 5 ingredients: browned hamburger, diced white onion, a can of ranch style beans, a small can of tomato sauce, and a tablespoon or so of chili powder. The secret ingredient is the ranch style beans—This simple can is full of spices (chili peppers, garlic salt, onion powder, paprika, etc.), meaning it does all the work for you.

But even if you never try this oh-so-easy chili, definitely be sure to make the pie—Layer fritos, chili, cheese, and onions, and enjoy!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Birthday Cake Goodness

I apologize for my absence. It's summer—everyone deserves some vacation! I'll post soon about my son's birthday cake. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Caesar Wraps with Homemade Croutons

Is it Friday yet? Well, we're getting close!

Caesar wraps are my new favorite lunch item, and homemade croutons take them from not-at-all-homemade to semi-homemade. :) I can't believe this was my first time making croutons. I had so much fun!

There are a hundred ways to make them, but I made these with half of a big loaf of ciabatta bread, cut into cubs; 4 Tablespoons butter; 2 (small) cloves of garlic; and a dash of fresh rosemary and dried oregano. I also happened to have a couple leftover basil leaves, so I sliced those and threw them in as well. Bake on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Stir the croutons halfway through the baking time. Voila!

May I also recommend Girard's Light Caesar dressing. As I'm sure you know, Caesar dressing can have more than 20 grams of fat in 2 Tablsespoons, so beware! Girard's Light Caesar has 8 grams of fat and is still delicious.

I hope you find this little lunch idea helpful. (Lunch is the hardest meal for me—Am I alone??) Anyway, as always, thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"Love. Without the Handles."

That slogan cracks me up. It belongs to one of my new favorite products—Popchips. (And no, I don't get paid to do endorsements; I just like to share great finds with you!)

I first sampled these chips at Costco, and I've also seen them at several other grocery stores. They taste amazing and give you all the satisfaction of a fried potato chip, but with much less fat! Twenty-two chips have only 4 grams of fat. As my friend Amber pointed out, that's less than Wheat Thins! So if you miss the days when you didn't know how bad regular Ruffles are for you, then pick up a bag of Popchips STAT. Happy snacking!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Jubilee Jumbles!

We had a marvelous time with family in town. In one long weekend we saw the Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39, four beaches, and two farmers' markets. I've spent the week since then adjusting to real life—Baby T and I are both missing having other people to entertain him 24-7!

To ease us back in to real life, I had to make my all-time favorite cookie. I owe my mom (by way of Betty Crocker) for this fabulous treat. Super soft because of the sour cream, and with a buttery icing I know you'll love—be sure to give these a try!

Betty Crocker's Jubilee Jumbles
2 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups brown sugar (which always means packed)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dairy sour cream
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
half a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips (Our family's addition. Don't skip these!)

Preaheat to 375. Mix all ingredients together. Cover and chill for one hour. Drop dough onto cookie sheet with spoons. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until slightly golden on top.

Start by melting 6 Tablespoons butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Remove from heat, and stir in two cups of powdered sugar. Add more powder sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until just barely frost-able. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Frost cookies once they have cooled.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Too Much Fun!

We're spending the week being tourists in our own town, since we have family in town. I'll be back next week!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Texas Sheet Cake

Happy holiday weekend, everyone! Few things say 4th of July to me more than Texas Sheet Cake. (Thanks, Mom, for all the good food growing up, especially around holidays!) This is super easy to make and sinfully delicious to eat. Enjoy!

The cake:
1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups butter, melted
5 eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour

The icing:
3 1/2 teaspoons cocoa
1/2 cup butter
6 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6-8 cups powdered sugar
  1. Mix all ingredients together. Whisk until clump-free. Spread evenly into a buttered cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.
  2. For the icing, bring all ingredients except the powdered sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Then add powdered sugar about a cup at a time until it reaches a slightly frost-able consistency. Poor over the cake and spread evenly.
The rest of our 4th of July menu this year consists of grilled asparagus and cremini mushrooms, root beer, and spicy burgers—topped with roasted poblano peppers and jalapeno slices!

I halved this recipe, as I so often do, mostly because I have a hard time putting 3 sticks of butter into anything! I made it in a 9x13 baking dish...perfecto!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pizza Again?

Are you one of those people who could eat pizza every day for a week without getting sick of it? I hope so! Because I'm posting about it again.

I read this post by Natalie from Perry's Plate, and I knew that if it really tasted anything like Papa John's crust, it would be a winner in this house. And let me tell you—she's right! This homemade crust is the closest I've made to restaurant quality. I still truly love my original recipe (seen here and here), but now I have two regulars. This new one has to be prepped 24 hours ahead, where my other only takes about 20 minutes. So I'll definitely use both.

Pizza Pizzas

From Alton Brown, Food Network (via Perry's Plate)

2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup warm water
2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons olive oil
  1. Place the sugar, salt, olive oil, water, 1 cup of flour, yeast, and remaining cup of flour in the bowl of a standing mixer. Spray the dough hook attachment with cooking spray. Turn machine to low and mix until the dough just comes together. Then knead for 15 minutes on medium speed.
  2. Tear off a small piece of dough and flatten into a disc. Stretch it until thin. Hold it up to the light to see if the taut membrane has formed. If the dough tears before it forms, knead the dough for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Place the ball of dough in a stainless steel bowl. Add 2 teaspoons olive oil and toss the dough to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 18 to 24 hours.
  4. Preheat oven (between 450 and 500), with stone on lowest rack. Flatten into a disc (or two, depending on the size of pizzas you want) on a pizza peel, and top immediately with toppings for a crisp crust. For a chewy crust, let the dough rest for 30 minutes before topping.
  5. Spread cornmeal on stone (careful - it's hot); slide the pizza on. Bake until crust is golden brown. Let sit for a few minutes after you've removed it from the oven. Voila!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Grilled Steak Salad with Grilled Stuffed Portobellos

I'm busted for promising you the remaining ice cream recipes and not delivering ASAP. The draft is almost done, so rest assured that you'll see them soon. But to tide you over, I've got another quick and scrumptious weeknight dinner for you to try.

This salad is my imitation of my favorite salad at a local restaurant, Pluto's. All you do is throw in some big rings of red onion, some flavor-packed croutons, Roma tomato slices, banana pepper rings, and dress it with a balsamic vinaigrette. (I love Newman's Own light balsamic). Then top with slices of grilled steak. Season the beef well, then allow to sit for a few minutes before putting it on the HOT grill. It only takes a few minutes on each side to get it to medium, depending on the thickness of the cut. (Refer to the temp chart below if you have a meat thermometer.) Then remember to let it rest for a few minutes before you cut into it, giving the meat time to retain all its juices, rather than spilling out when you cut right into it.

Beef Temperature Chart
Rare: 120-125
Medium-rare: 130-135
Medium: 140-145
Medium-well: 150-155
Well: 155-160
Ground Beef: 160

Now for the Stuffed Portobellos! This great recipe from would make a fabulous appetizer for a party—very elegant, yet deceptively simple. My photo isn't nearly as pretty as theirs, so I've included it to give you a better idea of what these babies look like.

Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

2/3 cup chopped plum tomato
1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh or 1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 (5-inch) portobello mushroom caps
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley for garnish

  1. Combine the tomato, cheese, 1/2 teaspoon oil, rosemary, pepper, and garlic in a small bowl.
  2. Remove and discard the brown gills from the undersides of the mushroom caps, as well as the stems.
  3. Combine 1/2 teaspoon oil, juice, and soy sauce in a small bowl, and brush over both sides of mushroom caps.
  4. Place the mushroom caps, stem sides down, on grill rack coated with cooking spray, and grill for 5 minutes on each side or until soft.
  5. Spoon 1/4 cup tomato mixture into each mushroom cap. Cover and grill 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with parsley.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cookies 'N Cream, Raspberry, and Cheesecake Ice Cream

Cookies 'N Cream is an easy adaptation of the basic vanilla recipe I posted below. Just add broken up Oreos in the last 5 minutes of freezing and you're good to go! My Oreos were reduced fat, and I don't think anyone would have guessed I definitely recommend it. (Especially considering how killer Oreos are in the first place!)

To make raspberry ice cream, macerate two small containers of raspberries in 2 Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and 1/3 cup sugar. Let sit while the ice cream churns, and add to the ice cream in the last 5 minutes of freezing.

Cheesecake Ice Cream
From the lovely Cafe Johnsonia

1 8-ounce bar cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups heavy cream, well chilled
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
pinch of salt

Beat the cream cheese to remove any lumps. Slowly add the sweetened condensed milk while beating. Continue beating until no lumps remain. Add the extracts, fresh lemon juice, and salt. Beat until combined. Slowly add the cream and continue beating until the mixture begins to thicken—not quite to the point of whipped cream, but almost. Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

Please hop over to Cafe Johnsonia for all kinds of amazing custard recipes and tutorials, complete with step-by-step photos. This girl is the ice cream queen!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tyler's Ultimate Spaghetti and Meatballs

Don't worry, the other ice cream recipes are coming. But for now I couldn't resist posting this.

Tyler's Ultimate is pretty much the best show on the Food Network. What do you guys think? I like him because he's upbeat, cool (wow, am I in seventh grade or what?), and his food always looks to-die-for! I recently tried his Ultimate Spaghetti and Meatballs, and I was NOT disappointed.

First off, I've never had a lot of luck with homemade red sauces. (BTW, if any of you know of a great recipe, do share! It's a skill I'm determined to master.) But at long last, I made a successful red sauce thanks to Tyler's pomodoro sauce featured in this recipe. It's a tad different than a traditional marinara, but if you ask me, it's spoon-lickin' good.

Second, this recipe cannot be classified as an easy weeknight meal. It's more of a romantic-dinner-for-two type recipe. It can be made in an hour, but it's a rather intense hour, since you'll have several things going on at once. (I had to stick Baby T in his high chair and bribe him with Ritz crackers to keep him from pawing at my legs the whole hour. Good news—it worked!)

With that said, let's dive in!

Pomodoro Sauce

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, drained and crushed by hand, liquid reserved
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the vegetables are soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully add the tomatoes (they may spatter) and about 1/2 cup of the reserved liquid and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the sauce is thick, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. (*I added a dash of dried basil and oregano at this point.) Bring to a boil, stirring for a few minutes with a wooden spoon to further break up the tomatoes. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the fresh basil and season again.

Spaghetti and Meatballs
1 pound spaghetti
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1 cup milk
4 thick slices firm white bread, crust removed
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1 large egg
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups heated Pomodoro Sauce, recipe follows, or good quality jarred tomato sauce
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, cut into chunks
A few sprigs fresh basil for garnish

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and parsley and cook until the vegetables are soft but still translucent, about 10 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and let cool.

Pour enough milk over the bread in a bowl to moisten, and let it soak while the onions are cooling. Combine the meats in a large bowl. Add the egg and Parmigiano and season generously with salt and pepper. Use your hands to squeeze the excess milk out of the bread, and add the bread to the bowl. Also add the cooled onion mixture. Gently combine all the ingredients with your hands until just mixed together. Don't overwork or the meatballs will be tough. Shape into 10 meatballs. (*Or more depending on your size preference)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a 3-count of oil in the frying pan over medium heat and brown the meatballs on all sides, about 10 minutes. Place them in a baking dish and spoon about half of the Pomodoro sauce over. Shower with the mozzarella. Put the meatballs in the oven and bake until the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and put it onto a large serving platter. Pour on the rest of the sauce and mix well. Spoon the meatballs on top of the spaghetti and garnish with basil leaves. Serve immediately, with extra Parmesan cheese.

I'm guessing most of you won't need meatballs galore like this recipe makes. I would halve or even quarter the meatball recipe, but do make the full sauce recipe. The more sauce, the better, right?

I hope whoever you make this for is impressed with your culinary prowess. :) Enjoy!

*Need to use up that extra fresh basil and parmesan? Try this bruschetta recipe on

Ice Cream: Vanilla and Peach

Fun, fun! Here are the photos I promised of Saturday's gelato bar:

Next, meet my ice cream maker, the Cusinart ICE-20. This was one of my very favorite wedding gifts.

Now, start with a basic vanilla ice cream recipe. From here, you can add just about anything (fruit candy, etc.) in the last five minutes of freezing in your ice cream maker. The below recipe makes ten 1/2-cup servings.

Vanilla Ice Cream
1 cup whole milk, well chilled
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
1 – 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, to taste

In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer or a whisk to combine the milk and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 – 2 minutes on low speed. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla to taste. Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions. (Mine takes about 25 minutes.)

Peach Ice Cream (pictured in the previous post)
6 ripe peaches
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract, divided

Peel the peaches and cut into bite-sized pieces. Combine peaches, lemon juice, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Pour into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook until peaches are tender and juices have thickened slightly.

Puree half of this mixture in a blender or food processor. Follow the instructions for the Vanilla Ice Cream above. Add the pureed peach mixture when you place the cream mixture into the ice cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Add the remaining peaches (that were not pureed) for the last five minutes of freezing in your ice cream maker.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for Red Raspberry, Cheesecake, Cookies & Creme, and Vanilla with Peanut Butter Swirl!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Gelato Bar!

Last week was the best week ever. I made ice cream every day of the week. I was in heavy cream heaven!

Lest you lose faith in me as a (relatively) health-conscious food blogger, I had a good reason for making so much ice cream—a baby shower. I was in charge of the food and decided to do a "gelato bar" for desert. We had cute toppings and five different kinds of ice cream, frozen in bread pans to resemble a gelato shop. More photos and 5 fun recipes coming soon...!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Jack's Prime

I've got a restaurant recommendation for all you locals. Jack's Prime. It's a hamburger joint on El Camino in San Mateo, CA. After our first bite, Hubby and I both looked up at each other and instantly agreed that their burgers are loaded with flavor. The diner has an authentic feel, completely casual and understated. And it's the kind of place where the owner comes out to say hello and ask you how you liked your meal. But watch out—it's packed on Friday nights! Guess that's how you know it's good!

photo from

I'm sure you've noticed by now that we're spice lovers, so we recommend the Phoenix burger. If you've ever been to Jack's Prime or if you go in the near future, let me know what you think!

Happy dining!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Cauliflower Mac 'N Cheese

The other day I saw a clip of The View where Tyler Florence (my favorite chef from the Food Network) was trying to convince Whoopi (by far my least favorite co-host) to eat a vegetable. He made mac n' cheese with cauliflower puree, and I knew I had to try it. Although I'm often tempted when I see a good recipe, I never make homemade mac n' cheese because I know it's not the healthiest choice. My husband, in particular, shies away from anything that looks too creamy. (Except cream cheese frosting, of course!)

So—replace some of the cream with cauliflower puree? Tyler, you had me at hello.
In the end, though, I've gotta be honest—I'm not sure I'd make it again. However, if you're a big mac 'n cheese fan, I do think you should give it a try. It is a pretty darn decent replacement, and when it comes to fat and calories, it's a far better alternative. If I hadn't known it was cauliflower puree, I don't know that I'd have noticed.

But since I wasn't a huge mac 'n cheese fan before this recipe came along, I don't think I'll be adding it to my dinner rotation. :)

But hey, that's why I say this blog is to share my adventures in the kitchen! Not everything you try can turn into a regular. But trying lots of recipes definitely guarantees that your dinner rotation will grow.

Anyway, have a great weekend, everybody! Thanks so much for reading.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Eatsa Pizza :)

I love making pizza. It's an art. Granted, it's an art I'm still perfecting, but I'm getting closer every time I make it.

I've made about three other dough recipes lately, to see how the others fare against my tried-and-true. Three points for tried-and-true. I loooove this recipe. It's easy and only takes about 20 minutes altogether, which is a huge plus. But it also makes fabulous crust, with just the right texture in my book. Did I say I love this recipe??


1 1/4 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour

1. Dissolve yeast in warm water.
2. Add sugar, salt, and 2 1/2 ups flour. Mix to form dough.
3. Add more flour (up to a 1/2 cup) if needed to pull together. Mix about 3 minutes.
4. Let rest for 10 minutes in bowl.
5. Let it rest for another 10 minutes after you've rolled it out.

Since I'm always improving my pizza-making skills, here are some of my latest tips. Refer to previous pizza post for more. (These assume that you've already been converted to the pizza stone.)
  • Preheat the oven for a good while. Get your oven HOT. I've been a too timid to crank my oven up to 450, but tonight I ventured to 435 and liked it better than normal. If it's good and hot, I think it crisps the very bottom of the crust without over-cooking the rest of it, meaning that the inside of the crust (as in, right below the sauce) can still be tender.
  • Cornmeal makes a huge difference. (Refer to the last paragraph of my previous pizza post.)
  • To jazz up the dough recipe, throw in some Italian spices, like oregano, basil or rosemary. It tastes delicious and makes the crust even prettier.
That's it for now. I'm sure I'll come up with more another time. Good luck with your pizza-making endeavors, and please let me know how it goes! I love to hear about what you're doing in your kitchen!

The little guy was a big fan. :)


Monday, May 25, 2009

Deli Roast Beef with Pesto & Havarti Cheese

I'm sorry, friends. I've been a bad food blogger lately. Why, you ask? Because I am in a food rut! I'm just not coming up with many new and tasty ideas, probably because for who-knows-why nothing sounds good lately! Not chicken, not beef, not much of anything. You'd think I was pregnant! (which I'm not!)

Anyway, I'm sure I'll snap out of it soon and be back to my normal nonstop baking, food blog prowling self.

For today, let me share with you what HAS sounded good lately. I'm pretty much obsessed with these sandwiches. I eat one for lunch every day.

The way I see it, you can't live in the Bay area without loving sourdough bread. I hadn't developed much of a taste for it before living here, but I have since grown to be quite fond of it. :) This sandwich was inspired by a sandwich I had at the Boudin Bakery once with my friend Amber and our kiddos. So glad I can make this version at home!!!

Here goes...

Deli Roast Beef with Pesto & Havarti Cheese
2 slices sourdough bread
1-2 thin slices of deli roast beef
1 teaspoon pesto, slathered onto bread
2 tomato slices
1 slice Havarti cheese (or whatever you have on hand!)
freshly ground black pepper and coarse salt

FYI, I use San Luis Sourdough Cracked Wheat bread (2 grams of fiber per slice), which I've found at Piazza's and Trader Joes.

Hope you enjoy this simple sandwich as much as I do! And hopefully it won't spoil you for all other foods, as it seems to have temporarily done for me...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Balsamic Roasted Vegetables

A few nights a week we eat vegetarian dinners. I wish I could claim that it was entirely for health reasons. (You know, eat red meat sparingly...) While that is a factor, our main reason is because we're cheap! For us, this recipe works as a main dish, packed with both veggies and flavor. But it also makes an excellent side dish, paired with flank steak or grilled chicken.
Balsamic Roasted Vegetables
1 zucchini, sliced into half-inch pieces
1 small butternut squash, cubed
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces
3 yukon gold potatoes
1 red onion, quartered
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (Last night I subbed the fresh thyme for 1 tsp. dried)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  1. Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and herbs. Add fresh ground pepper and sea salt.
  2. Toss the vegetables with the dressing, and let sit for about 10 minutes.
    Spread onto a large baking sheet.
  3. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes in a 450 degree oven.
(Before going into the oven)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Broccoli Raisin Salad

I can thank BYU's cooking class for this recipe. (Man I loved that class.) It's full of varied flavors—broccoli, raisins, walnuts, bacon pieces—with a tangy sweet dressing. To me it's the quintessential bridal/baby shower salad. :)
Broccoli Rasin Salad
Serves 6

1 large head briccoli, washed and trimmed
1/2 cup chopped onion (I use red for color)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 pound bacon, crisped and crumbled (I use 4 slices)

3/4 cup low-fat mayo
2 Tablespoons vinegar
1/2 cup sugar

Whisk together the mayo, vinegar, and sugar for the dressing. In a large bowl, pour dressing over salad ingredients and combine well. Refrigerate for a few hours (or even overnight) to soften the broccoli.

**I only make half the dressing recipe, and I think that is just enough for one head of broccoli.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lemon Sugar Crusted Blueberry Muffins

While I was at my mom's in Utah, I had a lemon blueberry muffin from Costco. Naturally, since it was from Costco, it was amazing. That's why I was so struck by this recipe when I saw it on Melanie's blog, My Kitchen Cafe.
And yes, it's a keeper. Next time I think I'll try subbing a couple tablespoons of applesauce for butter, and I'd like to add either some lemon zest or lemon extract straight to the batter. Nonetheless, it's perfect as is, too.

Since the recipe is a bit involved and Melanie explains each step so darn well, I'm just going to send you straight HERE for the recipe.

Need to use up your leftover buttermilk? Try this wonderful buttermilk banana bread (also from Melanie!) and these delightful whole wheat pancakes.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Quick Teriyaki Chicken

It's the middle of the week, everyone. That means it's halfway over! Last night for dinner we had a simple teriyaki chicken that I thought I should share with you. Remember this lovely recipe for sesame chicken? (Oh man I love that recipe.) This is the weeknight version—same sauce, same veggies (well, whatever you have in the fridge, really), just a different cooking method for the chicken. Rather than take the time to fry it, and to spare some calories at the same time, I like to grill or saute the chicken for a quick but delicious weeknight dinner.
Last night I seasoned the chicken with S&P, slathered the chicken with the sauce, grilled for a few minutes on each side, and sliced it into strips to serve.

Secondly, I wouldn't be a good food blogger if I didn't post discoveries like this one. Trader Joe's frozen brown rice is amazing!! I hate cooking rice for some many reasons...Half the time I forget to start the slow-cooking rice only to remember right before dinner is ready. Then I have to opt for minute rice, which I don't think tastes as good—especially in brown rice. But this option is foolproof. All you do is take a bag of it out of the freezer and microwave it for 3 minutes. That's it! Plus the texture of the brown rice is perfect, not grainy at all.

Well, have a great week, friends! Let me know if you have any questions.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Skinny Cows

I'm back from The World's Best Family Vacation and am getting ready to tackle some new recipes. Until then, have you tried the Skinny Cow products? They come Oprah- and Erica-recommended (who else's recommendation could you possibly need??) and are as tasty as their full-fat competitors.
Mmmm... The ice cream bars come in vanilla (Ryan's favorite), mint (my favorite), chocolate, peanut butter, and even strawberry shortcake. So next time your sweet tooth starts calling, reach for one of these babies instead.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Take 2)

Remember when I promised you'd be seeing more chocolate chip cookie recipes in the future? Well, today's the day. I described the last recipe I shared as thick and chewy. These ones, on the other hand, spread a bit thinner when you bake them, leaving you with slightly crispy edges and soft centers.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Take 2)
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons hot water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. Preheat to 350.
  2. Cream the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with the salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and walnuts (if using). Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.
  3. Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove immediately and cool on a wire rack.
With the millions of chocolate chip cookie recipes out there, I have a feeling I'll still post more down the road... So stay tuned! :)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fettucini with Parmesan and Cremini Mushrooms

I made this quick and easy pasta dish tonight and thought I'd toss it up here as another weeknight meal idea. Have you discovered cremini mushrooms? I'm just branching out into the mushroom world, and I've got to say, creminis blow regular old white mushrooms out of the water! (er, forest floor?) Anyway, the combination of fresh basil, nutty parmesan cheese, and satueed cremini mushrooms really makes this easy dish a winner.

Simple instructions:
  1. Cook whole wheat fettucini according to package directions.
  2. Saute some cremini mushrooms in a frying pan with some olive oil. (Remember that the mushrooms will shrink down, so start with a bit more than you think you'll need.) After sauteing, generously season with kosher salt and fresh black pepper. (The regular stuff works too. :)
  3. Slice basil into strips.
  4. Combine pasta (no need to rinse), basil, mushrooms, and add parmesan cheese (1/4 to 1/2 cup, depending on how much pasta you're making). Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Serve warm.
Next time I make this I'm going to add asparagus and cherry tomatoes. As with any least in my opinion...keep the veggie-to-pasta ratio heavy on the veggies.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Cilantro Citrus Chicken with Caesar Salad

Finally, I've got a new main dish to share! This marinade will jazz up your good 'ole standby— grilled chicken. It makes the chicken super-moist and gives it a zesty flavor from the cilantro and orange & lime juice. A big thanks to Cafe Johnsonia, a beautiful food blog, for the recipe.

Cilantro Citrus Chicken
From Cafe Johnsonia, via Cooking Light

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
juice of 1 orange
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 garlic cloves
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
Lime wedges to serve squeezed over the top of chicken

  1. Process the first seven ingredients in a blender until smooth. Marinate the chicken in the herb mixture for an hour. When finished, discard the marinade and let the chicken sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Coat the chicken on both sides with salt, cumin, and pepper.
  3. Grill for about 10 minutes on each side. (A thermometer should register 165, not that I ever do that...)
I sliced the chicken up after letting it sit for about 15 minutes and served it right alongside the salad. It would go well with all kinds of salads, so have fun with it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Black Bean Salsa

I got this recipe from the cooking class I took at BYU, and it's a keeper. It's a fresh take on the traditional tomato salsa, with black beans, avocados, and corn as the star ingredients. As with a lot of my recipes, it is completely adaptable according to your taste.

2 avocados, diced
1 can black beans, drained and well rinsed
3/4 cup corn (I use a really good frozen sweet white corn)
2 roma tomatoes (or 1 if it's a larger tomato variety)
1/4 cup cilantro
A quarter of a jalepeno, seeded and diced (optional)
Salt and pepper

Dress with half an Italian dressing packet, made up (meaning you need to vinegar & a salad oil on hand).

If you want to just make up the whole packet, you could use the other half of the dressing to marinate these fajitas.

Kitchen Tip: Snipping cilantro right off the bunch with clean kitchen scissors is much easier (and quicker!) than removing the leaves by hand and chopping them with a knife.

Enjoy the salsa!