Thursday, December 30, 2010


One of my favorite types of cookies to make during the holiday season is Snickerdoodles. These simple cinnamon sugar cookies have a funny name but are very tasty! This year, I made a batch for my graduation party and everyone seemed to like them. The recipe is from and makes either 2 dozen large cookies or 4 dozen smaller cookies.

1 1/2 C sugar
1/2 C butter, softened
1/2 C vegetable shortening (no trans fat!)
2 eggs
2 3/4 C flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 C sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Beat 1 1/2 C sugar with butter and vegetable shortening until fluffy.
3. Add eggs one at a time and beat to combine.
4. In a separate bowl combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
5. Add dry ingredients slowly and mix to combine.
6. Roll into 1 1/4 inch (large cookies) or 3/4 inch (small cookies) balls and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture. Press down slightly to flatten.
7. Bake 8-10 minutes until set and remove to wire rack to cool.
8. Enjoy! The also freeze well if there are any left!

Difficulty: Medium
Debbie's Rating: 10

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thanksgiving Stuffing

This year it was my job to make stuffing for our 22-person Thanksgiving. I knew immediately to go to my cousin, Marcy for the recipe. Not only is Marcy a great cook, I always remember her stuffing as being very tasty! With her directions and suggestions I succeeded in making from-scratch stuffing that was delicious and enough to feed our large family! Although it was definitely a lot more work than using a mix or pre-made bread cubes, it was definitely worth the effort!

Thanksgiving Stuffing (for a crowd)
Three loaves high quality bread (I used Italian, Cibatta and hearty wheat for a nice mix)
6 tbsp butter
3 medium onions, chopped
2 bunches celery, chopped
1 package parsley, leaves only, chopped
1 package fresh sage, chopped
1 tsp dried sage
32 oz chicken stock (I used Nature's Promise Organic Stock)
Salt and pepper

1. Cut the bread into small cubes and toast in a single layer on cookie sheets at 300 degrees for 15 minutes, tossing twice until dry.
2. Cool cubes and transfer 3/4 of cubes to a large bowl or stock pot. Save 1/4 just in case you make the stuffing too moist or freeze for later use.
3. Melt butter in a large saute pan and saute celery and onion for a few minutes.
4. Add chopped parsley, sage, dried sage, salt and pepper and continue to saute until veggies are golden.
5. Add veggies to bread cubes and toss to combine.
6. Add chicken stock until bread cubes are moistened, but not soggy (3-4 cups).
7. Press into buttered casserole dish (I used my 9x13 lasagna pan since it has high sides).
8. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 covered and then an additional 15 minutes uncovered. (Since I was going somewhere I pre-baked for 30 min at my house, 30 min at 350 plus 15 uncovered).
9. Serve. Feeds a lot!

Difficulty: Hard (not really hard, just a lot of work)
Debbie's Rating: 10
Family Rating: Great!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Creamy Pasta with Lemon Pepper Chicken

I found this recipe for creamy pasta with lemon pepper chicken in the tear out "30 minute meal" section of my cook's country magazine. I thought it would be a good weeknight meal, so I decided to try it out. The creamy sauce was very similar to the ricotta pasta I already make, so nothing too exciting there, but the chicken was excellent! I really liked the lemon pepper sauce. I would make this again, maybe even doubling the sauce and using it to coat the pasta instead of the cream sauce. Or the chicken would be great over a salad as well!

Creamy Pasta with Lemon Pepper Chicken
2-3 thin sliced chicken breasts (I got tired of pounding chicken, so I buy thin sliced now for skillet preparations)
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of one lemon
8 oz spaghetti or other long noodle
1/2 C parmesan
1/2 C ricotta
Dried parsley

1. Bring water to boil for pasta.
2. In the meantime, season chicken with salt and pepper.
3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in skillet over medium high heat and cook chicken about 4 minutes per sized until cooked through. Transfer to cutting board and tent with foil. After resting for 5 minutes, slice crosswise.
4. Add an additional tbsp oil to skillet and return to medium heat. Cook garlic and several grinds of black pepper until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
5. Add lemon juice and simmer until reduced to about 1 tablespoon.
6. Add chicken strips back to pan and off heat, toss to coat. Cover to keep warm until pasta is ready.
7. Boil pasta according to package directions. In meantime, combine ricotta, parmesan, parsley and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Add about 1/2 C pasta water to thin to sauce consistency.
8. Toss sauce with pasta and serve with chicken on top.

Difficulty: Medium
Debbie's Rating: 10 for the chicken, 8 for the pasta/ sauce
Hirsh's Rating:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Classic Cheddar Cheese Ball

For Thanksgiving this year, I offered to bring a cheese ball for an appetizer. I had seen the recipe in my Cook's Country magazine, so I thought it would be a perfect time to try it out. While most people think of cheese balls as something that you buy at the store, it was super easy to make! Everyone enjoyed it, so I would definitely recommend making it any time you are going to have a large crowd!

Classic Cheddar Cheese Ball
2 C shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
8 oz cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat)
2 tbsp mayonnaise (I used light)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 C toasted sliced almonds

1. Combine all ingredients except almonds in the food processor and process until smooth.
2. Place mixture in the center of a sheet of plastic wrap. Grab 4 corners and twist, forming cheese ball into a sphere.
3. Refrigerate until firm about 3 hours (or you can make the day before).
4. Once firm, unwrap and roll in almonds (Note, to toast almonds, toss in empty skillet over medium heat until golden and aromatic)
5. Serve with crackers!

Difficulty: Easy
Debbie's Rating: 10. I might use a little less Worcestershire sauce next time as the flavor was strong.
Goldberg Family Rating: Everybody loved it!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

As Fall is the season for everything pumpkin, I thought I would share this recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. This year I made them for Apple Butter, an annual event with the Barnes family devoted to making a giant cauldron of apple butter, being outside and enjoying great company and great food. Since it makes a lot, I saved some and put them out as part of my defense spread as well. They were a hit at both events. The pumpkin makes them a little different than traditional chocolate chip cookies and really soft. Thanks to my mom for the recipe!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks (1 C) butter, room temperature
3/4 C brown sugar
3/4 C white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 C flour
1 C quick oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 C pumpkin
1 1/2 C semi sweet chocolate chips

1. Cream butter and sugars until fluffy.
2. Add egg and vanilla and beat well.
3. Combine flour, oats, baking soda and cinnamon in a separate bowl.
4. Stir dry ingredients into butter/ sugar mixture alternately with pumpkin.
5. Fold in chocolate chips.
6. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour up to overnight.
7. Drop by tablespoons on a cookie sheet and bake for 13 minutes at 350 degrees (a cookie scoop is very useful for this-- just like an ice cream scoop, but smaller).

8. Cool for one minute and then remove from cookie sheet and cool completely on wire rack.
Makes 4-5 dozen. Freezes well.

Difficulty: Medium
Debbie's Rating: 10

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Always wanting to try new healthy muffin recipes, I decided to make pumpkin muffins for the fall season. I searched online for some recipes and modified this one slightly to yield tasty, healthy muffins. Accordingly to the online nutrition facts calculator that I discovered each muffin has 180 calories, 5 g fat and 2 g fiber. Not bad for breakfast! And the best part is that they also taste delicious!

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Muffins
1 C sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 C whole wheat flour
2/3 C white flour
1/4 C oil
1/4 fat free vanilla yogurt
1/2 C cold water
1 C canned pumpkin

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Combine all dry ingredients.
3. Add wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
4. Line muffin tins with muffin cups or simply grease.
5. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full and then bake for 40 minutes.
6. Cool and remove from muffin tins, makes 12 muffins.

Difficulty: Easy
Debbie's Rating: 10

Monday, November 8, 2010

Caramel Pecan Ice Cream

When I got my Kitchen Aid ice cream maker attachment, I noticed that the instruction booklet had a recipe for carmel pecan ice cream. Unlike the other ice cream recipes in the booklet which were made with heavy cream, eggs and half and half (and often had well over 20 g fat per serving) this recipe was made with whole milk and only had 3.5 g fat per serving. I figured that the creaminess and thickening came from the jello pudding mix rather than the cream. Since it seemed like a perfect fall flavor, I decided to make it for dessert when our friends Kim and Tom came over. The texture was a little different than traditional ice cream, but the flavor was great (especially since it was "low" fat!) and I would definitely make it again.

Caramel Pecan Ice Cream
3 1/2 C whole milk
1 can sweetened and condensed milk
1 C warmed caramel butterscotch topping
1 packet instant vanilla pudding
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans

1. Combine all ingredients except the pecans and whisk until pudding mix is dissolved.
2. Refrigerate at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
3. Pour into ice cream maker and churn for 20-25 minutes.
4. Add chopped pecans in last minute of churning.
5. Freeze overnight to complete hardening process.
6. Enjoy!

Difficulty: Medium
Debbie's Rating: 9

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Spinach and Ricotta Quiche

Quiche is a fun "fancy" dish that is actually pretty easy to make. It's also great to make for company because there is no last minute prep, so you can entertain your guests until it is ready to come out of the oven! I got this recipe for spinach and ricotta quiche from my mom, and made it for our friends Kim and Tom when they came over for dinner.

Spinach and Ricotta Quiche

1 box chopped spinach
1 egg
1 medium onion, chopped & sautéed
2 tbsp butter
1 9-inch frozen pie crust
15 oz. ricotta (I used part skim)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Thaw pie shell for 15 minutes.
3. Pierce bottom and sides of pie shell with a fork.
4. Bake pie shell in oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes until slightly brown.
5. In the meantime, saute onion in 2 tbsp butter.
6. Add onion to thawed, drained spinach, egg, and ricotta and season with salt and pepper and mix to combine.
7. Place filling in pie shell and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Make sure to cover the edge of the crust with foil so it does not burn.

Difficulty: Easy
Debbie's Rating: 9

Monday, November 1, 2010

Guest Post: Hot Pepper Butter

On my flight from Minnesota to Portland for the Controlled Release Society conference in July, I sat next to a guy named Robert. Robert was very friendly and talkative, so we passed the time on the flight chatting about science, photography and cooking. He thought it was cool that I had a cooking blog, so he sent me this guest post recipe for Pepper Butter. Him and his wife grow hot peppers, so they make this and jar it. Thanks Robert, for the great guest post!

Hot Pepper Butter
36 to 50 chile peppers (or more, depending on size and desired heat)
1 quart prepared yellow mustard
1 quart cider vinegar
5 cups sugar or Splenda (we made one batch of each and couldn't really tell the difference)
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch or two of garlic
8-10 pint-sized canning jars

Chop/blend peppers in food processor or blender (a blender makes finer chunks). We use a lot of peppers as you can see in the photos, though we didn't use all of the habaneros or Caribbean red hots (the orange and orange-red peppers to the left) as they are extremely hot. You can leave the seeds in or remove them; we decided to remove them along with the central "placenta," which contains the capsaicin glands and is the hottest part of the pepper.

Add peppers and remaining ingredients into large saucepan and stir thoroughly. Slowly bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes. STIR CONSTANTLY as the thickness of the sauce will cause it to burn very easily. Have prepared canning jars ready. The mixture should be canned immediately to ensure a good seal. Makes approximately 8 pints.

The peppers as shown are the following varieties, clockwise from upper right:
Cayenne (hot)
Chile red or Thai (very hot)
Garden Salsa (mild to medium heat)
Caribben red hot or Scotch bonnet (like a habanero, only hotter!)
Italian salsa (mild/medium heat)
A couple of jalapenos for good measure

This particular mix made for a fairly spicy mustard, but not overwhelming. Cooking the mixture reduces the heat somewhat.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chocolate Bundt Cake

This year for break-fast on Yom Kippur, I made a chocolate bundt cake. I got this recipe from my mom after I got a bundt pan for my shower and it always turns out great. The buttermilk makes it really moist and it has a rich chocolate flavor without being too sweet. It has very nice plate presentation and can be topped with a glaze of your choice or garnished with powdered sugar and fresh berries.

Chocolate Bundt Cake
2 C flour
1/2 C cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 C butter (2 sticks), room temperature
2 C sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 C buttermilk
1 C boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda and set aside.
3. Cream butter and sugar in mixer until fluffy.
4. Add eggs to butter and sugar and beat on medium speed.
5. Gradually add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk, mixing after each addition.
6. Add vanilla and mix.
7. Add boiling water and mix.
8. Grease bundt pan, making sure to get Pam in all the nooks and crannies.
9. Pour batter into pan and bake for 45 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
10. Cool for 1 hour and then carefully flip over onto plate to de-pan. Cool completely.

Difficulty: Medium
Debbie’s Rating: 10

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Every September at UMB, the third years complete their comprehensive exams to advance to PhD candidacy. As part of the exam, they must give an oral presentation on their proposed research to the department. Brittany, the third year in my lab who will be taking over my project when I graduate, presented in early September. Since I know how important it is to have happy committee members during your oral defense, I offered to bake zucchini bread and banana chocolate chip bread for her morning exam. I already blogged about the zucchini bread that I made for my committee meeting. My mom always makes banana bread so I knew exactly where to get the recipe. Both breads went over great and Brittany passed with flying colors!

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

2 C flour
1 C sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup mashed bananas (about three very ripe bananas- the riper, the better)
1 stick (1/2 C) butter, melted
2 eggs
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used mini chips)
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In large mixing bowl combine all ingredients except for chocolate chips and walnuts and blend well on medium speed.
3. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
4. Lightly grease 9 x 5 “ loaf pan with Pam and pour batter into pan.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pan.
7. Cool completely. Freezes well.

Difficulty: Easy
Debbie’s Rating: 10
Department’s Rating: Gobbled up with lots of “mmm’s” ☺

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Waffles

Since I am at home writing my dissertation, I like to watch one episode of "Good Eats" while I eat lunch. We have about 20 episodes on our DVR at any given time and it is on a few times per week, so this works out quite well. In addition, I still feel like I am learning "science" even at lunch! I mentioned to Hirsh that Alton Brown made chocolate chocolate chip waffles on his "Wonderous Waffles" episode and of course, he was really excited to try them. We made them for Sunday brunch and they were delicious. I didn't want to cut the recipe in half, so I just froze the leftovers for a future treat!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Waffles
1 1/2 C flour
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 C cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
14 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
3/4 mini chocolate chips
Vegetable spray, for waffle iron
Strawberries and powdered sugar for topping (optional)

1. Whisk together all dry ingredients.
2. In a separate bowl, beat eggs with melted butter and then add vanilla and buttermilk.
3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Add chocolate chips and mix.
4. Preheat waffle iron to highest setting and let batter sit for 5 minutes.
5. Spray waffle iron with non-stick spray.
6. Pour batter into waffle iron, briefly spreading out with a rubber spatula.
7. Cook until waffle iron indicator light shows that waffles are done.
8. Serve with strawberries and powdered sugar for an extra special treat! Leftovers can be frozen and heated in toaster oven similar to eggo waffles.

Difficulty: Easy
Debbie's Rating: 10
Hirsh's Rating: 9

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Broccoli, Mushroom and Cheddar Quiche

Hirsh and I made my mom a special birthday dinner when we were in Pittsburgh this past weekend. I get a lot of my recipes from her, so I wanted to make her something that she doesn't make. Since she usually makes spinach and ricotta quiche, I thought it would be fun to make a more traditional egg-based quiche. I paired it with sourdough bread with herbed butter and fresh salad. The dinner turned out great and I couldn't have done it without my WONDERFUL sous chef, Hirsh!

Broccoli, Mushroom and Cheddar Quiche
1 9-inch frozen pie shell
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 C skim milk
3 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
Few grinds black pepper
1 C shredded cheddar cheese, divided

1. Preheat oven to degrees.
2. Peirce bottom of pie crust with a fork and bake about 10 minutes. Let cool. Cover edges of pie crust with aluminum foil so it won't burn.
3. Steam broccoli for 10 minutes until just tender. (if you want a shortcut, you can use frozen broccoli instead, but I prefer fresh)
4. Saute mushrooms in a bit of olive oil until golden brown.
5. Combine milk, eggs, melted butter, flour salt and pepper and 1/2 C cheese and whisk until well blended.
6. Sprinkle remaining half cup of cheese over crust and press down lightly (this creates a protective barrier so the crust doesn't get soggy from the egg mixture).
7. Layer mushrooms and broccoli on cheese and pour egg mixture over everything. (*Note be careful not to have large sections of cheese exposed on top. It will burn...I learned this the hard way)
8. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
9. Let rest for 5 minutes and serve. Makes 4 entree portions.

Difficulty: Medium
Debbie's Rating: 9.5
Hirsh's Rating: 9
Mom and Dad's Rating: 10

Friday, July 30, 2010

Healthy Carrot Raisin Bran Muffins

As mentioned in my Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins post, I love muffins. They are the perfect breakfast before my Saturday morning jazzercise workout, so I like to make a dozen and put them in the freezer. After my oatmeal applesauce muffins ran out, I decided to try a new healthy muffin- carrot raisin bran muffins. Like all muffins, this "healthy" muffin can quickly become unhealthy with lots of oil and sugar. But I found this recipe on a blog that is very healthy- only 1 egg and 2 tbsp oil in 12 muffins and they are packed with whole grain and fiberlicious goodness from wheat bran and whole wheat flour. The muffins turned out great- a little spicy from the cinnamon/ ginger, not too sweet and definitely very healthy!

Healthy Carrot Raisin Bran Muffins
1 C wheat bran (it's near the oatmeal in the grocery store)
1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
1/4 C brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 1/4 C shredded carrots
1/4 C raisins
1 1/4 C skim milk
1 egg
2 tbsp canola oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Combine bran, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger.
3. Add carrots and raisins and toss to coat.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk egg, milk and oil.
5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients mix until just combined.
6. Prepare muffin pan by spraying with Pam or using muffin liners.
7. Spoon batter evenly into 12 muffin cups.
8. Bake for 15 minutes.
9. Cool on cooling rack. Muffins freeze well.
Difficulty: Easy
Debbie's Rating: 9

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pesto Pasta Salad

This past Saturday, Hirsh and I went to a "Festa Junina" party celebrating the Brazilian summer festival. My lab mate Tatiana organized the party as a potluck in the park. I decided that this light summery pasta salad (my mom's recipe) would be perfect to bring. It doesn't have any mayo in it, so it could withstand the 102 degree heat. Next year when we have basil in our garden (we tried to grow basil from seeds this year, but it was unsuccessful) I definitely be making it a lot.

Pesto Pasta Salad
16 oz. bow-tie pasta
6 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 C lightly packed fresh basil leaves
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
Pinch of sugar
2/3 C grated Parmesan cheese
1 C olive oil
Freshly Ground Pepper
1 container halved grape tomatoes
Baby corn

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again.
2. In blender or food processor, combine vinegar, basil, garlic, salt, sugar, cheese and olive oil and process until smooth and well combined.
3. Lightly mix pasta and dressing. Cover and chill 1 hour or longer to blend flavors.
4. Add grape tomatoes and sauted baby corn and toss immediately before serving.

Difficulty: Easy
Debbie's Rating: 9
Hirsh's Rating: 9

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pineapple Teriyaki Salmon

I am always looking for new, easy fish recipes, and I thought it would be fun to try making an asian-flavored salmon. I found this recipe on and modified it a bit. This was the first time I pan-seared fish and I was skeptical about the short baking time, but the pan sear cooked it very quickly. Both Hirsh and I liked it, so I will definitely make it again!

Pineapple Teriyaki Salmon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 can diced pineapple in juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons canola oil
2-4 salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Combine brown sugar, soy sauce, orange zest, salt and 6 oz pineapple juice in small sauce pan.
3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and then let simmer for 10-15 minutes to reduce to around 1/4 cup.
4. Heat large non-stick skillet over medium high heat and add oil.
5. Dry fish and season with salt and pepper on both sides.
6. Place fish flesh side down in heated skillet for 3 minutes.
7. Flip fish over onto foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes
8. Brush generous amount of sauce over each filet and bake for 1 more minute.
9. Toss desired amount of pineapple in remaining sauce and heat through.
10. Serve fish garnished with pineapple.

Difficulty: Medium
Hirsh's Rating: 9
Debbie's Rating: 8.5

Friday, July 16, 2010

Guest Entry: Grilled Chicken and Bakes

When I started my cooking blog, I thought it would be fun to include guest entries. My friend Matt was the first person to volunteer to write a guest entry. Although Matt doesn't cook a lot, this is a meal that he makes often and wanted to share. Let me know if you would be interested in doing a guest entry!

Grilled Chicken with Bakes, By Matt
I don't cook very often (and I'm not very good), but there are a few things I make and I wanted to write up one of them. This is a dinner that I'll make when I have a little time.

This first picture includes all of the ingredients I use.
I start with the bakes since they take the longest. This is a recipe I got from my mom. No idea where she got it. My brother and I like fries, so my mom came up with these. They taste pretty good, but they're not actually fried. Since they're baked we started calling them bakes.

Take a potato and slice it up. Any way is fine. I do a combination of long, thin strips and chunks. Grease a baking pan with Pam and place the potato pieces in the pan. The more potato surface area you can get touching the pan the better as this will get the bakes crunchier. Then cover the potato pieces with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper (my mom also uses garlic).
Bake at 425 degrees fahrenheit until golden brown. This usually takes about 30 minutes but my oven doesn't work too well so you should monitor it closely the first time you try it and adjust as necessary.

Then I prepare some fresh fruits and vegetables to hold me over until dinner is ready.
After about 15 minutes I start preparing the chicken since that doesn't take too long. I used to buy skinless, boneless chicken filets (either Harris Teeter or Purdue). I would slice it in half for two related reasons: 1) I'm impatient and it takes longer when its thicker and 2) Slicing it in half ensures I cook it thoroughly. However, I've recently switched to Purdue's packaged chicken filets. They come in packs of five and are individually packaged so they're easy to freeze. I normally will make two of these at a time since they're already pretty thin.

I throw the filets on a stove-top griddle I got at Bed, Bath and Beyond for $40 (after the 20% off coupon). Then I cover the filets with Emeril's Original Essence. Not too much though.
Cook at Medium-Medium High for 10 minutes or so (until thoroughly cooked). Once its done I'll throw a slice of Swiss cheese on top and let it sit for a minute to melt just a bit.

The timing is the hardest part for me but if you do it right the chicken should finish a minute or two after the bakes. The bakes usually need a few minutes to cool but the chicken doesn't. Sometimes the bakes need more salt after they come out of the oven (or maybe I just like a lot of salt).

Variations - If I don't feel like waiting for bakes, I'll eat some bread to hold me over and have fruits and vegetables as the side. Or vice versa depending on how I feel that day.

Difficulty: If I can do it, it must be easy.
Matt's rating: 7-8 depending now how patient I am with the bakes.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Fresh Corn Salad

Recently, we were invited to a Mexican-themed party and I volunteered to bring a side dish. Since corn is in season right now, I thought it would be fun to make a fresh corn salad. I adapted a recipe from Ina Garten on the food network. This was the first time that I had cut corn off the cobb to use in a dish, and I have to say, it was worth the effort. The sweet white corn far surpassed any frozen corn I have had and is definitely a must for this dish.

Fresh Corn Salad
10 ears of corn, shucked
1 small red onion, finely chopped
6 tablespoons cider vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Several grinds black pepper
1/2 C julienned fresh basil leaves.

1. Boil 10 ears of corn in a large stock pot for 5 minutes.
2. Remove ears with tongs and place in a large ice water bath to cool rapidly. Dump out water and add ice, as needed, until corn is cool.
3. Cut the kernels off the cob, and use your fingers to separate.
4. Drain bowl of corn kernels (some water will accumulate and you don't want this to dilute dressing).
5. Add red onion, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat.
6. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
7. Immediately before serving, add basil (basil tends to brown with time).
8. Serve! Makes enough for a party.

Difficulty: Easy
Debbie's Rating: 9
Party's Rating: They loved it, especially the fresh (not frozen) corn!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Every year our street has a 4th of July block party. It is always a lot of fun with lots of kids, water balloons, a softball game and fireworks. This year I offered to bring a dessert. With so many kids there, I thought it would be a great idea to make something fun and festive. I haven't had ice cream cone cupcakes since I was about 6 years old, but they are so cute, I couldn't resist. I have to say, this is probably the most adorable dessert I have ever made! The kids at the party thought they were so cool and gobbled them up! And they tasted pretty good too. The red and blue sprinkles made them perfect for July 4th, but they could be decorated for any event. I can't wait to have an excuse to make them again!

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes
1 cake mix + ingredients required for mix (I chose Betty Crocker yellow cake mix)
24 ice cream cones (flat bottom)
Mini chocolate chips
Frosting (I made Hershey's Chocolate Frosting- see Chocolate Layer Cake for recipe)
Decorations- I used red and blue sprinkles

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Arrange 12 cake cones in a muffin tin.
3. Sprinkle about 1 tsp of mini chocolate chips into each cone. This helps prevent them from being top heavy and is a sweet surprise at the bottom of the cone!
4. Make cake batter according to package directions.
5. Fill each cone with batter just up to where the cone begins to widen. Don't overfill.
6. Bake for 18 minutes. Watch them rise in the oven! Mmm!
7. Cool completely on a wire rack (be careful, they like to topple over). While they are cooling, repeat with the second set of 12 cones.
8. Frost and decorate. I loaded my favorite homemade chocolate frosting into an icing bag and made swirls with a #32 decorators tip and topped them off with red and blue sprinkles.
9. Serve. Don't make too far in advance or the cones will get soggy.
10. If you have leftover cake batter, make some regular cupcakes or a mini cake (I made one in my loaf pan).

Difficulty: Medium-hard
Debbie's Rating: 9.5- taste was good and appearance was great!
Hirsh's Rating: 9
Sutton Court Kids Rating: "Mmm...these are awesome!"