Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Very Evil Spinach

Living in wonderful Wisconsin, I am treated to very bipolar weather. Monday I was outside in a swimsuit, whistling while washing windows (alliteration anyone?), got a painful sunburn, and well is frikkin' cold as hell out where I have the heat turned on waiting for tomorrow's supposed snow. When it's cold out, I crave comfort food. This recipe for creamed spinach is essentially healthy spinach parading around in a devil's costume, because it's not good for you at all. It is delicious and it should be because the amount of butter and carbs in here make it SOOOOOOOOO good.

Creamed Spinach

1 stick butter
8 TBL Flour
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups milk
salt & pepper to taste
1 pinch ground nutmeg
ANOTHER 3 TBL butter....lord help me
24 ounces of leaf spinach

Melt 1 stick butter in a pot. Sprinkle flour in there and cook over medium heat until it turns to a roux that is light golden brown. Chuck that onion and garlic into the mix and cook for another minute. Pour in milk, whisking all the while, and cook for another five minutes.

While that is cooking, you need to cook the spinach. In a separate pan, melt the 3 TBL of glorious butter and add the spinach in increments until incorporated and cook until wilted but NOT soggy (approx. 4 minutes).

Season the cream sauce with the salt/pepper/nutmeg. Add spinach to the cream sauce and stir gently.

Flick that angel sitting on your shoulder, and ask the little diablo on the other side if you can borrow his pitchfork so you can dig into some buttery, creamy, spinach awesomeness.

Oh yeah, this probably should be served as a side to a nice steak, but I've heard that some people make this as their meal and eat it all alone. Gotta go....I've just been told I've got something green in between my teeth.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Fu Manchu Bunny

Hope everyone's Easter holidays were incredible and full of delicious food. I know that I usually have tons of leftovers and I also have a terrible disease that only allows me to eat leftovers once afterwards. Nope, cannot force myself to eat the same food more than that without trying to re-invent it.

I colored eggs with my kiddo twice this holiday season, and what do I get? A ton of pastel colored eggs which will most likely end up in the trash if one doesn't get creative with these suckers. I came across this recipe last year, and it's a WINNER: Asian inspired deviled eggs.

Asian Deviled Eggs
12 servings
1 dozen hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (with 2 teaspoons reserved)
1 teaspoon wasabi powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 to 2 scallions, sliced

In a medium bowl, combine egg yolks, mayonnaise, sesame oil, and sesame seeds (excluding the reserved 2 teaspoons), wasabi powder, salt and black pepper; mix well. Fill egg white halves with yolk mixture and place on a platter. Top each egg with sliced scallion and sprinkle with reserved sesame seeds. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

PREPARATION TIP: Place egg mixture in a resealable plastic storage bag, seal, and cut tip off one corner of bag. Pipe egg mixture into egg white halves.

Even if you don't have extra eggs to utilize this recipe, I suggest you keep this one in your back pocket as a great appetizer for when folks come over. It's always fun to throw a curve ball when it comes to a well established recipe.

Let me know if you have any great re-invention recipes for the holidays!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I know, I know.....

I have been a bit relaxed when it comes to posts lately. I haven't been doing a lot of cookig as I have been super busy with other things, so I hardly think that blogging about that fancy grilled cheese is worth everyone's while.

But, I'm back and feeling like cooking up a storm. I even bought a whole duck yesterday. Never made a whole duck before but I'm ready to give that one a whirl. What's even better, is I know my Dad will be smiling down on me. Goodness, that man loved duck something FIERCE.

So, I'm back on board. Get ready to hear about some quacky cooking.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Channeling Dahmer

We had a dinner party with friends on Saturday night with the theme being recipes by Giada De Laurentiis. We all did some prep work at home and came together to complete the dishes at my house. The protein which I plucked out of the Giada pile, was Crispy Lamb with a Honey Mascarpone Sauce.

I had to go for the lamb as I like making things at these dinner parties that I don't usually take the time for. Little did I know that finding rack of lamb in Racine is like hunting for the Holy Grail. I called multiple grocery stores only to hear 'NO'. I popped into two stores, asked within the meat butcher laughed at me and the other said that this cut of meat was "too expensive for Racine". Finally, I called up a supplier of meat to restaurants in the area, and hooray, they had it.

I've worked with rack of lamb before and apparently have lived in blissful ignorance in regards to the butchering process of this fine cut. Historically, my racks have come vacuum sealed, with almost all the fat trimmed, and beautifully frenched little tips. Let's just say that this "rack" that my hubby brought home was more of a ribcage. Spinal cord, check. Full on meat and fat all the way to ends of the ribs, uh-huh. I had to go to a very dark, primal place to even think about dismantling this sucker.

Ask me how I did it? With an electric hack-saw. Yep, right down the spinal cord. Two more diagonal cuts to completely rid us of that pesky backbone and then I had the frenching to do. Let me just tell ya, when I was done butchering this lamb (which took well over an hour), the corner of my kitchen where the dismantling took place was covered with: 1. blood 2. fat 3. bone 4. marrow. You must be smacking your lips right about now, right? Well, I knew that all the blood (literally) and sweat that it took to do this, I would be enjoying myself some tasty lamb that night. Did I ever.

Giada, thank you. It was delicious. Even Karri, who shys away from any protein that doesn't cluck, gobble, or oink, had a piece and liked it (or, so she says). And man, that sauce. I think I could just make that sauce and eat it by the spoonful while watching some sappy chick flick. It's that good.

Enjoy my before and afters of this butchering process. Please don't be afraid to leave your children with me.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I am having an affair.....

Olive oil, you have been good to me. For many years you have been my culinary companion, and I will only look back on the time we spent together with great fondness. But, I have found somebody else. I have been sneaking around with grapeseed oil and I am beyond infatuated.

If you haven't cooked with grapeseed oil yet, go on and buy your self some. What I love most about cooking with grapeseed oil is that it has a relatively high smoke point, approximately 420 °F (216 °C), so it can be safely used to cook at high temperatures. This oil has allowed me to sear some serious meats and the oil never burns, and those gorgeous caramel brown sear marks on the meat......well, they make me shiver with excitement.

Let's talk about the taste. It has a clean, light taste that is described as 'nutty'. Nutty, but fresh. I love the robust, rich flavor of a good olive oil (especially for dipping bread), but man, this is a nice change. It allows the flavor of food to really seep through and it's not clouded by anything else.

Oh yeah, and did I tell you how healthy this stuff is? Brings the good cholesterol up, and the bad cholesterol down. Even more so than olive oil.....I am hooked.

Bottom line is that olive oil may need to sleep on the couch a while. Me and grapeseed will be in the bedroom for a bit longer. Oh, and if you are ready to fall in love too, then you should check out Wildtree for their grapeseed oil. A bit more expensive than olive oil, but SO worth it!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Undercover Brother uh....Sisters

I promised photo documentation from my undercover trip to Taste of Home last week. Finally the PC/laptop/networking gods have allowed me to do so. Please note the test kitchen cook in the background baking away.

Frequently asked questions regarding Taste of Home's test kitchen.....

Do you even know how excited I was to read this.....test kitchen staff sometimes get to bring home food and have their families test it out. Not sure if anything is better than going to work, doing what you love, and then bringing home the goods and voila....dinner. Please pay me to make dinner for my family. You don't even have to pay me that much.

This is CJ. She has the job that I want, she has the white coat I want to wear, and she has perfectly coiffed hair that I would like as well. I sent her a card last week thanking her for spending so much time chatting with us, and casually mentioning this blog. Wonder if she is reading this? Wonder if she will ever tell me the name of those ridiculously awesome peanut butter cookies she is holding. Wanna see a better picture of them? Ok.....

Here they are. They are better tasting vs. looking. They are so good that I won't show you the picture that was taken after eating them. I look like I'm in a happy peanut butter coma with a pregnant belly. A true testament to the tastiness (alliteration, anyone), but my vanity will not allow the upload.

So, I thank my girl, Karri, for suggesting this trip. I had a great day and feel a baby step closer in making true contact with the folks "up there" at TOH.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Food made with LOVE

Make your sweetie something delish tonight. Stir in some crazy love and don't forget to ask for a big juicy kiss afterwards! Happy V day!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I didn't handcuff myself to the building.....YAY!

Well, I took my little trip to Greendale to visit the Reiman Publications (Taste of Home) Visitors Center, with my cohort in crime, Karri. I was beyond excited to walk through the doors and all plans of funny stalkerish pictures in front of the building fell to the wayside as I spied the Test Kitchen through the windows.

First, let me tell you that the lovely gal at the reception desk was uber informative and absolutely charming. Taste of Home, you did a great job hiring this gal. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe her name was Diane. She told us of all we could see within the Visitors Center, gave us tips for fun places around Greendale, and also event plans at Taste of Home VC that would allow me access back (without a Code Red button being pushed upon my entry).

My two main draws at the Visitors Center were: 1. The Test Kitchen 2. The TOH Outlet Store (ridiculous deals were had ladies, be VERY jealous).

My heart started palpitating as we approached the Test Kitchen. There was one woman baking away. Thank goodness it wasn't bread, because we all know my feelings about bread now, right? She was in the midst of baking an award winning peanut butter cookie. Another cookie, "The Minnesota Muncher" was already displayed outside of the kitchen's window for browsers to sample. Yes, we had one, it was delish and dang right it should be, because it won 1st place out of 34,000 submitted cookie recipes.

The cook within the Test Kitchen was named CJ, she had beautiful blonde hair, looked like she really enjoyed working there, took the time to chat with us, and didn't seem annoyed by our million questions. This is the kicker.....SHE DOESN'T HAVE A FOOD SCIENCE DEGREE......she has a marketing background. People....there is HOPE! I believe that Karri had to drag me away before I came right out and told her that I needed to have her job.

We then did some shopping at the store, came back up to the Test Kitchen to chat some more with the lovely CJ, and she let us try the peanut butter cookie. That was my kind of cookie. I heart peanut butter something fierce. CJ even showed me which recipe it was within the TOH cookie cookbook, but somewhere between the sweet flavor explosion that was going on in my mouth and majorly coveting CJ's job in the cute as a button test kitchen, the name of the cookie has escaped me. This I know, the name of the cookie had Peanut Butter in it. I thought for sure I could find it when I got home, but much to my disappointment, a search for peanut butter cookies on the TOH website yielded over 500 results. Looks like I have a reason to go have coffee with CJ so she can set me straight, right?

Remember above, when I mentioned the "Minneosta Muncher" cookie. Well, the gal who won with this recipe decided she didn't want it published without monetary compensation. Good on TOH that they didn't fold! Personally, I would be thrilled if my recipe beat out 33,999 others and I just might have the gumption to have the ingredients and directions tattooed on my forehead. CJ hinted that I may be able to find the recipe on the internet (she herself doesn't even know it....she gets the premixed ingredients to this cookie delivered to her so the recipe stays top secret).

While I was more of a fan of the nameless peanut butter cookies, my compensation prize to you is the recipe for the MINNESOTA MUNCHER. Yep, I found out. Now, it's yours and you can go bake these and know that everyone will love them as they are award winning yummies:

Minnesota Munchers

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (or could use baking soda)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup English toffee bits (use more if desired)
1 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350*. Line cookie trays with parchment paper (or spray with cooking spray). Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Combine dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt and stir into the creamed mixture. Stir in milk chocolate chips, semisweet chocolate chips, toffee bits and pecans. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto the greased cookie sheets.
Bake 10-12 minutes in preheated oven. Allow to cool slightly on baking sheet before transferring to wire cooling rack.

Cannot guarantee that this is EXACTLY the recipe, but fairly certain this is close based on the ingredients listed.

Pictures will come soon. We are having some major issues with computer networking, printers and downloading capabilities at the moment over here. So yeah, another little nugget of hope in my quest. Glad I went, and hope I don't wear out my welcome over there or find myself in a position where I'm given a nickname such as "Wide-Eyed Weirdo Stalker Girl".

Monday, February 8, 2010

Guess where I'm going today.....

Going to the Test Kitchen of Taste of Home today. Only a tour though. Do you think if I do cartwheels and some good ole cheerleading moves they will take notice of me?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Taste of Home Herbed Onion Focaccia

So I faced my fears, and went ahead and made bread for the first time EVER the other day. I referred to my special issue of Taste of Home "Recipe Card Collection" and found a recipe for some beautiful looking focaccia (see pic above, courtesy of Taste of Home). First to the good news. The focaccia was AMAZING. Light and airy but full of flavor. Everyone loved it. Now to the bad news. My personality does NOT mix with break baking. For pete's sake, you have to let this stuff rise for hours, your hands get all gooped up with all the kneading, and after investing all this time in watching this dough baby grow, it just may deflate after all. I'd say that for the anal retentive and patience challenged home cook, skip the bread making bit. The agony of potential defeat by bread made me feel anxious and fidgety until I bit into the first chunk smothered with butter. Then I started feeling a bit more zenned out....

Are you ready for my pics now.....


That's what I'm talking about. Pretty good for the novice, aye? Not as pretty as TOH's, but I was pretty pleased with myself.

Herb Crusted Focaccia
12 Servings Prep: 40 min. + rising Bake: 20 min.
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1-1/2 cups warm water (110° to 115°), divided
1 teaspoon sugar
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons salt
4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1-1/2 teaspoons small fresh sage leaves or 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano plus 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
additional olive oil, optional
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Add sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. Add 4 tablespoons oil, salt, 2 cups flour and remaining water. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Divide into three portions. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Shape each portion into an 8-in. circle; place on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Using the end of a wooden spoon handle, make several 1/4-in. indentations in each loaf.
Brush with remaining oil. Sprinkle with green onions, rosemary, sage and oregano. Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Serve with olive oil for dipping if desired. Yield: 3 loaves.

I substituted the green onions for dried onions, and it turned out delish as well. I also changed the recipe to use olive oil vs. canola oil because olive oil brings it up a notch, wouldn't you say? So, everybody go out there and bake some bread. Maybe your personality is suited for bread making. I'm kinda sad that I've discovered myself to be within the instant gratification sub-group of foodie/cook. I think I'd rather pay the $5 for an awesome artisan loaf and use the hand-clenching nervous hours that I'd waste staring into the oven to whip up something that I could dip the bread in.

I also ask for forgiveness in this post coming out so late. My dumb PC has crashed and not until last night did my hubby show me how I can transfer all pics from my camera to this ridiculous laptop that I hate working on.

If anyone has an EASY, no rising bread recipe, send it my way!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Can I just say.....

I am not born to make bread. I just washed my hands of the sticky dough that has been rising forever and I'm not even sure if it has risen enough. Now it has to be seperated so it can rise some more. This breadmaking dealio is not an undertaking for someone with patience issues. The reward better be tremendous.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Caramel & Sea Salt Brownies

I swore that I would have bread pics up today. Tomorrow, I promise! Ya see, yesterday was my son's birthday and I spent the day in the kitchen cooking up a Mexican storm and needed a day off because we have so many leftovers and would feel guilty making bread when those tortillas were sitting there saying "eat me". It was my kiddo's request that we have tacos for his birthday and I kicked it up a notch with the following menu:
-shredded lime chicken tacos
-cilantro, cilantro, cilantro, cilantro salsa (I LOOOOOOOOOVE cilantro)
-sweet corn tamale cakes
-refried beans
-all the sour cream, cheese, tomatoes, onions, & lettuce one's heart can desire

He didn't want a cake, he wanted brownies. Easy enough. I felt like a cop-out not baking some multi-color, multi-level Darth Vader birthday cake so I thought I would at least try to get creative with the brownies. I made Caramel & Sea Salt brownies. After the initial, "salt on brownies? Why would you ever think this is a good idea?", everyone had one and there was a resounding thumbs-up.

Caramel & Sea Salt Brownies

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

5ozs unsweetened chocolate
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
3 eggs
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ tsp of sea salt
¾ cup walnuts (optional)
1/4 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
1 cup caramel sauce (I was originally thinking I would make this from scratch but pulled a Sandra Lee)

8” square buttered baking dish

Melt unsweetened chocolate and butter in microwave for approximately two minutes. Stir to completely dissolve chocolate. Add sugar and mix until you can’t see granules. Beat eggs and vanilla with a fork, add to chocolate and sugar mixture, and stir until glossy and smooth. Mix in chocolate chips, 1/2 tsp. salt, and walnuts. Stir in flour until everything is mixed evenly together. Pour 1/2 of batter into buttered baking dish. Top this batter with the caramel sauce spread evenly over the entire surface. Pour remaining batter on top and sprinkle with 1 tsp of sea salt. Bake approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out smooth.

Kind of like a turtle brownie with extra salty caramel. I think sweet/salty things are my favorite when it comes to flavor combos. If you have any good suggestions of fantastic sweet/salty recipes, send them my way. Must run, the chocolate covered potato chips are screaming for my attention.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Dough Re Mi

I love crusty bread. I wish I didn't like it so much. If good bread is on the table, I could care less about the calories and the carbs. That being said, I am afraid to make bread. I even have a bread maker somewhere in my basement. I attempted making a loaf once, it didn't turn out, and I retired that sucker. My friend, Chester the Jester, is a pro at bread making. He makes it sound so simple, doesn't use a bread maker, and turns out wonderful, artisan breads that could be found in the chicest cafes in the world. I think I am going to have to get over secretly hating people oh so slightly because they have mastered an art within the culinary world. At least I will pretend to. Not only is Chester so kind in his promise to teach me the basics of bread making, but he has kindly contributed the following piece:

Bread Baking, An Introduction

The aroma of freshly made bread baking in the oven excites the senses and causes one to involuntarily salivate in anticipation of biting into a big piece of warm dough....perhaps slathered in butter. It is an aroma that permeates too few homes as many people have bread making anxiety. And yet nothing could be simpler than to make a hot, moist loaf.

Why the anxiety? Basic bread is 5 simple ingredients. Water, flour, yeast, a bit of sugar to help the yeast, and salt. There is nothing particularly complex about putting the 5 together. And once one learns the art of making a simple loaf, the incredible versatility of bread and bread making can be explored. To the basic ingredients can be added different types of flours, spices, herbs, cheese, fruit, olive oil....the possibilities are endless. The shape of the loaf can also be played with.....standard, french, round, braided, etc. And let's not forget the finished can be eaten bare, with butter, cheese, meats, jams and jellies.

In addition you impress the hell out of a lot of people when you explain that you make your own bread. So why the anxiety? As with all human endeavors, our species takes a simple concept....five simple ingredients...and makes it complicated.

There are now endless types of flour, numerous kinds of yeast. The Alton Browns of the world talk of internal temperatures, the inconsistency of ovens, the chemical reactions that are going on as the yeast explodes. Crust envy is analyzed and explained. And various bread making machines are introduced, a step backward in my opinion. And there is the problem with kneading. People are afraid to knead, they don't know how to do it and feel inadequate. Fear not. Kneading is a pleasant, even exciting experience. How often do you get to stick your hands into a hot, gooey substance, and with a few flicks of the wrists and the meat of your palms bend it to do your bidding? Trust me, you'll find it difficult to stop once you start.

The beauty of bread is that it is a basic food that everyone loves. A freshly made loaf disappears immediately if there is anyone in the vicinity when it leaves the oven. And bread freezes well if you wish to stock up. Those looking for a good common sense bread baking book can do no better than Beard on Bread by James Beard. It has simple but delicious recipes. And it even teaches the three different ways to knead. He has a recipe for an easy French Loaf which I have revised a bit. It will make two French loaves. French loaf bread pans are helpful but not necessary as the bread can be baked on a cookie sheet with corn meal spread on the sheet to prevent sticking.

Ingredients: 1 pkt dry yeast, 1 tsp sugar or honey, 2 cups warm water, 1 TB salt (garlic salt works as does garlic power if you want some garlic flavor), 5-6 cups flour. (I use one third whole wheat and two thirds white).

Place the sugar or honey in a large bowl, add the water and mix, and then add the yeast and watch it go to town (2-5 min). Mix the flour and salt and add one cup at a time, mixing with a large wood spoon. Note the amount of flour is not exact. Mix the flour until the dough is stiff (it is a sticky glob) and remove from bowl onto a lightly floured bread board or counter. Knead until the dough is smooth. As you knead you will be adding flour as necessary. Place in a buttered bowl, cover with a towel and let it rise until it roughly doubles in size (one and a half to two hours)
Remove from bowl, shape the loaves (long and slender) and place in bread pan or on sheet. Make three shallow slices on top of each loaf, place in a cold oven, and bake at 400 degrees until done 35-50 minutes later depending on the oven etc. Remove and eat.

Once you master the basic recipe, you can create your own variations. You can add a cup of warm olive oil, half a stick of melted butter, rosemary, basil, garlic powder, feta cheese, and even olives for a more exotic loaf. Note that an increase in liquid will mean more flour.

My comments: The last paragraph scares me. Don't tell me that I can add a cup of warm olive oil to bread and not how this effects the increase in flour precisely. That's it. I am overcoming my fear of baking bread and going at it. Within 48 hours there will be a picture of bread on this blog that came out of my oven (yeah, not store bought and being warmed in the oven). Keep posted for my throwdown with bread.

Friday, January 29, 2010

.....just thinking

As I post on my blog, I ponder if this endeavor will pan out in the end with what I truly am seeking, a job at Taste of Home magazine. I know that this blog has only been in existence for a few short weeks, but constantly wonder if anyone over there is reading it. I have had two people contact me in the last couple of weeks mentioning that they know someone who knows someone who works there. So the game of Six Degrees begins.

It's funny the most unusual circumstances can land you a job. After I graduated from college, I decided to go travel abroad for a while and planted my feet firmly in Prague, Czech Republic. I speak Czech and many of my relatives live there, so it was an easy decision. After breathing in all wonderful things that Prague has to offer, I knew that I had to stay for an indefinite period of time and put my degree to work.

My degree is a BA in Journalism with a focus on advertising, so I started sending out my resume to all int'l ad agencies that had offices in Prague. My goal was to land a job at Saatchi & Saatchi. I had learned about Saatchi in school and did a paper on PSA's, with a focus on the Pregnant Man poster that had garnered S&S many accolades and awards.

I got a call from almost all the agencies where my CV was sent, except Saatchi. I was ready to accept a position elsewhere, and finally that call from Saatchi & Saatchi came. Somebody finally took notice of my resume and thought I was worthy of an interview. Where did they find my resume? In the garbage can. I won't name any names, but apparently this person deemed the circular file as the proper place where the resume belonged. A little angel named Lida Walsh had haphazardly thrown something away and was digging in the trash when she came across this crinkled up piece of paper. She immediately called me in, interviewed me, and a week later I had my dream job.

So, if I can land a job from someone digging in the trash, surely this blog can help me too, right? I hope so. And, it's not like the hiring folks over there even have to do any dumpster diving.

Let me just end this with a little six degrees that should tie up this post with a pretty, shiny bow. One of the founders of Saatchi & Saatchi, Charles Saatchi, is married to Nigella Lawson. She is neither a trained chef nor cook, and assumes a distinctly relaxed approach to her cooking. Her cooking empire includes TV shows, multiple cookbooks, and a line of kitchenware. Hey, Nigella, I worked for your husband. Can I get a shout-out over here??

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cuckoo for Coconut

Frigid Wisconsin winters make me long for anything and everything that has to do with summer. I close my eyes and I picture myself on a beach with the sand in between my toes, sipping a pina colada. For many years now, I've always craved anything made with coconut in the dead of winter (or frozen hell).

I was OVERJOYED to find a local Indian grocery store that carries unsweetened coconut at a very reasonable price. You can find bags of sweetened coconut at every grocery store but locating the unsweetened variety is like catching a glimpse of the elusive Sasquatch. There were five bags of it on the shelf. My coconut stockpiling instincts immediately took hold, and I grabbed them all. With nervous trepidation I asked the check-out gal if this was an item that they carried throughout the year. Yes, they do. Hallelujah, I put back three bags and rid myself of thoughts that Oprah's camera crews would be knocking at my door with intentions of capturing coconut spilling out of the drawers at the crazy hoarder's house.

With coconut in hand, I started thinking of what I could make at home that would channel the taste of summer. I came up with this little ditty and it was a home-run.

Mango Coconut Chili Shrimp

About 1 lb. peeled/deveined raw shrimp
2 cups fresh or frozen mango cubed
1/2 cup shredded UNSWEETENED coconut
1 cup chopped onion
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. red chile flakes
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 TBL. vegetable oil (I use canola)
3 TBL. soy sauce (I use low sodium)
2 TBL. lime juice

Heat oil in pan over medium heat and saute onion until it's translucent. Once that's done, throw that garlic in, and let that cook for about three minutes. You can simultaneously add the shrimp, coconut, chili flakes and mango at this time. Cook until shrimp transforms to the color of Molly Ringwald's dress in Pretty in Pink. I absolutely prefer cooking with raw shrimp. If you overcook cooked shrimp, the texture is tough and reminds me of eating yesterday's chewed gum. Add soy sauce and lime juice and mix throughout. Give it another 2 minutes and then plate. Sprinkle with cilantro, a little bit of the coconut on top and serve with jasmine rice.

You will love it. It will take you from this frigid tundra to a sun soaked destination. With every chew, you will hear the crashing of the waves. Please remind me, why do I live in Wisconsin?

Oh, and everybody go shop at East Indian Emporium on Lathrop Ave. in Racine. Because if this economy allows for this business to go under, I will be one very mad unsweetened coconut deprived maniac.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I'm working in a Test Kitchen!

Are you excited for me? I just realized that at my fingertips I have a fully equipped kitchen within my own home that I am majorly familiar with and have access to 24 hours a day. What does that give me? Recipes straight from the Test Kitchens of Daniela.

Basically, the job that I am pursuing at Taste of Home would involve testing recipes. This person makes sure that:

1. The submitted recipe tastes good
2. The dish photographs well
3. Any substitutions to make the meal more healthy/low-fat/heart-smart would work as well

I decided why wait for that email/phone call from Taste of Home. I could start my dream job now (minus the pay, of course) and while at it, expand my own personal recipe favorites. I need your help now. To make this work, I need YOUR recipe submissions. I will pick one a week, make the recipe, take pics of it and then give my two cents on the meal. This also requires a tasting panel. While my husband enjoys my cooking, I can honestly say that this man is a living garbage disposal and would eat cardboard if it was covered with ketchup. So, he doesn't count (sorry babe). Those of you that live close by will be called upon on Test Kitchen Daniela days to sample the fare. Sound good?

Start submitting those recipes please. Honestly. Or this idea will end up in the same pile as the notion that I could train for and run a marathon.

A Middle-Eastern Mouthful

Last weekend we attended the Middle-eastern dinner party at our friends' (Rachel & Ben) house. My camera came along as I had every intention of capturing the gorgeousness of all the dishes I'm sure Rachel had been sweating over the better part of the day. Not until midnight did I remember that the camera never came out of my bag and desperately tried to capture any remnants of this fabulous dinner. Well, for whatever reason, the settings of my camera shifted while in the garbage pit I call my purse and I got the WORST pictures. Yes, it's all my bag's fault.

So, to remain true to the beauty and tastiness of this Arabic meal cooked with love, I have to rely on the pics that some kind soul posted on the internet. Thank you, whoever you are, for being a gifted photographer.

Oh my word, the falafel was to die for. I revisited these balls of yum a couple of times.

Fish tahini. The trout was flaky, moist, and seasoned to perfection.

Rice with lentils. Perfect accompaniment to the fish. As I chewed the delicate grains of rice and the heartiness of the lentils, Britney's "Gimme More" was blaring in my head.

Tabouleh salad. Beautiful color and clean flavors.

Homemade pita bread. Brian, one of the attendees at the party, made these from scratch. I hate Brian just a wee bit because he has mad artisan bread baking skills. Please teach me!

So there you go. Nothing better than a night with friends who know how to cook, eat, and laugh. And I promise with a capital "P" that I will never cheat and post other folk's photos again. It's just really hard to be Ansel Adams when you are holding a glass of wine in one hand and digging in a bottomless pit for your camera with the other......and it's midnight......and you're not exactly sure if it's you or your camera that is not focusing correctly.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Apron Lust

I am convinced that my cooking will taste a million times better if I wear this in the kitchen.

If you are wiping drool from your face right now, then go check out Jessie Steele's aprons.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Inner Beauty of Baba Ganoush

We are going to a Middle-Eastern themed dinner party tonight. Of course I don't want to come empty handed so I made some baba ganoush (yes silly, I'm bringing wine too.)

I was introduced to baba ganoush while on one of my visits to the Dearborn area in Michigan many years ago. My hubby's brothers live there and they have a bunch of Middle-Eastern delis and resaurants at their fingertips. My sister-in-law took me to her favorite deli, and oh my word, my eyes became the size of mini pita breads. Spits of lamb roasting, dolma swimming in cucumber sauce, and the smell of spinach pies baking wafted through the air. Thank goodness I don't live close by, because if I did, I would need a burqa to hide all the fat rolls I've developed from mass consumption of this awesome Arabic fare.

So, everyone is familiar with hummus, right? Yeah, hummus is the belle of the ball when it comes to Middle-Eastern dips. You can find it almost in every supermarket right next to the salsa. So if hummus is Cinderella, than I guess you can call baba ganoush, undeservedly, the ugly stepsister. She wants to be in the limelight like her sister, but for some reason she is left behind.

The main ingredient in baba ganoush is eggplant. This deceptive vegetable is perhaps the reason we all aren't dipping into the baba at every social gathering. That shiny purple coat is peeled off only to reveal grayish-tan innards that aren't nearly as pretty as the golden beige color the hummus is sporting. But, baba ganoush is lower in calories and the texture is sublime. It does take a little bit longer to prepare than hummus, because you have to roast the eggplant. Once you taste this dip, you will understand why the extra time is absolutely worthwhile.

Baba Ganoush

1 large eggplant
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
Parsley and sesame oil to garnish (optional)
salt/pepper to season


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pierce an eggplant with a fork all over or use an ice pick if you are angry and want to re-enact Sharon Stone's performance in Basic Instinct. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes or until squishy. Let cool, then peel and mash. Set aside. In a large bowl or food processor, combine garlic, tahini, lemon juice, and mix it all up. Fold in the mashed eggplant by hand. Top with parsley and garnish with a drizzle of sesame oil. The oil is not necessary but that's how I love it.

Serve with pita or crackers or whatever carb-esque crunchies you have in the pantry.

I can not just end this post here. I believe that the culinary gods were delivering a message to me yesterday. Remember my post in which I mocked the use of tweezers as a tool for the kitchen? If you didn't read it, then here you go. At any rate, I was poking around TJ Maxx and within the kitchen gadget section, there was a misplaced, clearanced out pair of pink tweezers. Nestled in between the cutting boards and some ramekins, there they were.

No, they are not the fancy-shmancy surgical tweezers that the chefs use, but at least they weren't full of random hairs and dermal matter bits like the ones sitting in my cosmetic bag. I took it as a sign. I had to buy them and use them to decorate something edible. Since I already made the baba ganoush, I decided to use it as real estate for this message:

Leave the hummus at home next time and let the baba ganoush take a ride in the pumpkin carriage.

Don't mind that eyebrow hair in your salad

Lookie, look. Apparently the newest kitchen gadget that is all the rave in four star restaurants is......TWEEZERS.

Yes, for the most anal-retentive cook, you can march on down to Walgreens and pick up some tweezers to arrange your garnishes in the most precise fashion. I am all about presentation, but man, this is just a little nit-picky for me.

Should you feel your dish won't be complete without sesame seeds arranged so that they resemble the Mona Lisa, go at it. I bet your family doctor may want to barter his surgical tweezers for some beautiful & artsy-fartsy home-cooking.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Don't be a chicken.

I think there is intimidation to many a home cook about roasting the whole bird. We live in the comfortable world of chicken breasts and foray into roasting an entire feathered friend annually, around the third week of November. Not necessary! This succulent sucker is super easy to make, makes the house smell like Eau De Martha, and tastes better than any rotisserie chicken you will buy at the grocery store. This is a great recipe for the weekend because it slow roasts for five hours and does require at least four hours for the dry rub to seep in.

Roast, Sticky, Rotisserie-Style Chicken

4 lb. whole chicken
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 onion quartered

Mix together all spices in a small bowl. Rinse that chicken, including the cavity (get rid of those pesky giblets), and pat dry. Rub that chicken down with the spices both inside and out like you are penetrating it with deliciousness via swedish massage. Insert the quartered onion into the cavity of the bird. Place the chicken in a resealable bag and refrigerate overnight or at least for four hours so that all flavors become BFF's.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Place chicken in a roasting pan and bake uncovered for five hours. Yes, five hours. Seems long, doesn't it? Not a typo. Baste twice within the last hour. Let the chicken stand for ten minutes and then cut into the moistest chicken you will ever have the experience of eating. Oh, and then flip the bird to the rotisserie chickens at the grocery store because you will never buy one again.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love. Then eat some more.

I woke up this morning, sat down at my computer and got the most wonderful little surprise. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, will be in Madison next month discussing her book, her writing style, and her pure brilliance as part of the Wisconsin Book Festival. I am beyond excited to go hear her speak.

This book spoke to me in a way that no other book has ever been able to. As I read about her stay in Italy, I felt like I was her dining companion. Her colorful and passion fueled passages about food allowed me to taste them right along with her. The portion of the book dealing with the delicate yet complex food that is served throughout Italy was a delicious read for me, but the overall message extracted from Eat Pray Love has served as great inspiration. The core of the message is this: if you are not happy and strive for change, do it. Create your own journey to find yourself and personal happiness.

This blog is definitely a significant product of the above mentioned inspiration. I cried when I was pages away from finishing for two reasons:
1. I wanted this book to be never-ending 2. I knew that I would have to buck-up and create my own goals upon completion

So, here I am putting my love of cooking and eating out there for the world to see. I pray that my zeal is crystal-clear and transparent enough for someone to take a chance on me with the job of my dreams.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In vino veritas

As you all know, I'm very new to the blog universe. The only advice I received when I decided to launch this thing, was that I should try to post daily for a while. I doubt that everyone is waiting with bated breath for my daily post, but I certainly do want to show that I have commitment to this blog and the goal: a job within the test kitchen of Taste of Home.

Last night I met my friend who has been blogging for over eight years for some wine, and for some blogging tips. She was tremendously helpful. Not only did she come up with some great ideas and suggestions, but she also marched in to the establishment with two TOH cookbooks. Hooray, my TOH library is growing!

I came home last night feeling completely invigorated and ready to branch out in regard to my blogging capabilities as well as my journey in grabbing the attention of someone at Taste of Home. Downing a few glasses of wine made me feel like I could accomplish tremendous feats in that direction. Truth be told, last night I felt like Superwoman and today, not so much.

Mental note to self: Do not consume multiple glasses of wine and think you can rock it with your blog/job-landing skills the following day. Oh, and if anyone at TOH is reading this, no, I don't have a drinking problem.

Monday, January 18, 2010

That's my boy

Today we were all home in honor of Martin Luther King, and had a day of errands and appointments planned. One of those appointments was a doctor's visit for my son. We have a tradition on the days there are doctor's appointments......a lunch or dinner date to reward his bravery.

While most children's band-aided and swollen arms might be comforted with the thought of a Happy Meal, this is certainly not the case for my five year old. When asked where he wanted to go to lunch as we left the doctor's office, he yells, "SUSHI". Yep, nothing more soothing to my boy than a mound of raw fish, soy sauce, and sushi rice. We have often gotten very strange looks while dining out at sushi joints with my son. He knows exactly what he likes, eats sushi like a pro, and has been doing this since he was two years old.

Perhaps the fact that he popped out on the delivery table wearing Mario Batali orange crocs should of clued me into the fact that this kid was a born foodie. He scoffs at the idea of a corn-dog but is well versed when it comes to whether or not he wants to drizzle his pad thai with sriracha or sambal. I am grateful that his love of all types of food frees me from the chicken nugget slavery that I feel many mothers endure.

Introduce your children from the get-go to all foods you love. Just because certain foods are spicy or tart or something you may not consider feeding a babe, doesn't mean that they may not like it. I can pretty much guarantee that most ethnic foods are healthier than the over-processed junk that kids love. You can drop your short-order cook duties and serve the family a diversified and flavorful meal that all can enjoy, AND you can feel good about it.

So, yeah, I'm thankful that I don't have all McDonald's programmed into my GPS. While my son's culinary cravings may put me in the poorhouse, I'm glad that he relishes all types of cuisine from all countries, not just France's infamous french-fries.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Are the Beatles in town?

So my good girlfriend (let's call her Trixie) owns a fantastic restaurant in town. Very cool atmosphere, with delicious inventive food. Trix called yesterday and asked if there was anyway I could come in and help with Sunday brunch since an employee was unavailable. Of course I'll help my girl out.

I get there at 9:20 (it opens at 9:30) and virtually have to break thru the crowd to get into the restaurant. As I approached, I thought, "Is Lady Gaga brunching in Racine? Perhaps George Clooney decided the Bananas Foster French Toast is the perfect snack before the Golden Globes." This celebrity-worthy mob of folks was here for one reason: to eat.

It made me think that there are only a few things that I deem worthwhile standing in line for:
  • Awesome concert tickets
  • The elusive Xmas toy that makes it's appearance every year. My Mom did it for my Cabbage Patch Kid 30 years ago, and this year I was a line-standing fool for the Zhu-Zhu.
  • Mouth-watering, delectable food

Eating great food is an experience, and one that I definitely think merits some patient (or impatient) waiting. It's one of the only activities you can partake in that will allow for all five senses to be engaged. To top that off, who doesn't like breakfast food? Many a foodie will tell you that the perfectly made egg is the mark of a good chef.

The dream of dancing eggs bennies diving into pools of hollandaise brought people out in droves this morning. I know I would rather wait in line for a steaming plate of chilaquiles over the possibility of a Brangelina sighting. Just remember that good food is worth waiting for and the 30 minute standing time will be a fleeting memory after taking that first bite of pure yum.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Jicama, Grapefruit & Avocado Salad

I would like to thank the painted fruit bowl that I purchased in Mexico 10 years ago. You are a dedicated holder of produce and you beautifully display your passengers. Today as I glanced over at this glossy vessel I noticed it's contents: grapefruit, jicama, and avocados. The wheels started turning and I thought that the unity of potential flavors sitting within that bowl could make a ridiculously delicious salad. Thank God for inspiration! Seriously people. This salad was the BOMB. The acidity of the grapefruit paired with the smoothness of the avocado along with the crunch of the jicama, made my mouth so happy. My taste buds were high-fiving each other from start to finish.

I cannot stress how incredible tasty this salad was and please remember this when you look at the picture and think, "What??????" That salad?" Ignore my crappy picture taking abilities for the time being and take my word for it. Make this salad and you will be a culinary superhero for the day.

Jicama, Grapefruit & Avocado Salad

1/2 jicama sliced in inch long strips
1 grapefruit with skin & pith removed cut in bite-size pieces
2 avocados cubed
2 TBL. fresh basil cut in strips
1/2 tsp. black (or white) sesame seeds


1 TBL. lime juice
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. mirin
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. wasabi powder

Combine all ingredients for dressing and whisk so that dressing is smooth and without clumps. Add all ingredients in a large salad bowl and toss lightly so that avocado stays in cubes and doesn't become mushy. Add dressing to salad and lightly toss again. Serve immediately and then call me and thank me for the party that is happening in your mouth.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Houston, we have contact.

Lo and behold, after sending my resume yesterday for the job posting, I received an email back from Reader's Digest (Taste Of Home).

Let's start with the good news: This is the first time that I've actually received any response to a submission. Normally my resume would be sent for a job posting and it would be followed by a very long audio clip of crickets chirping.

Now to the not-so-good news. I received my first email at 2:02 PM, which stated they have identified another candidate, and have filled the position. Fine. At least, I am on their radar and I was worthy of a notification that it's a no-go. Interestingly enough, I received another email at 8:05 PM, which said that while the position is currently open, they are putting the hiring on hold. I'm confused.....two emails with two different responses that conclude with the statement that my resume will remain on file in their database.

Oh, well. The mission continues. But wait, don't they say that a double negative is actually a positive? That's how I'm viewing it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

....and the bombardment continues

I noticed that a new posting for employment in the Test Kitchen popped up today. So, guess what I'm doing..........(drumroll).........sending my resume AGAIN! Yes, it's time for the folks over there to pull out the file flagged "THE CRAZY WHO WON'T TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER", and categorize my CV appropriately.

This is a position for an individual that has the following tasks appointed to them: prints orders, shops for groceries, stores groceries, does inventory, preps food, takes photos, cleans & deep cleans, and does the occasional re-test of a recipe.

Ok, so this position doesn't need a BS in Food Science however does need the following:
  • minimum of associate's degree in culinary, food service, or related field
  • current food handler's certificate required

I'm fairly certain (no, 100% sure) that I could handle all the essential duties and then some. I will be looking into how one attains a food handler's certificate. Perhaps this small nugget of movement towards acquiring 1 of 2 of the necessary requirements will allow for my resume to be switched to the file marked "LUNATIC RESUME-SENDING LADY WITH A FOOD HANDLER'S CERTIFICATE".

Until then, I shall persevere. The bombers of Hiroshima have nothing on me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sometimes you need trashy food

So, my neighbor and her children are coming over to eat tonight for what we call "Community Dinner". Usually, every Wednesday morning we talk, open our fridges, and decide what will be made for the night. Yesterday, we made a pit-stop at Woodman's due to being close by, and bought all the fixings to make Panang Curry and other Thai side dishes. I'm thinking we are one day ahead of ourselves and what a wonderful little ethnic feast we have planned for the next night.

Not the case. I just got off the phone with my girl and she folded to the demanding palates of her kiddos and took them out for Thai last night. Being the host, I don't want to force-feed the kids virtually the same stuff two nights in a row, for that would cuisine cruelty. She mentions the kids have been asking about my "White Trash Casserole".

In one swift swoop, we go from the harmonious combination of Thai sweet/spicy/salty to a pile of potatoes, ground beef, cheddar cheese, and condensed vegetable soup. I'm making it sound so appetizing, right? Just because the WTC can be found baking in the ovens across the country's trailer parks doesn't mean that it's not a tasty treat. Every once in a while, you need to turn up your nose at your inner food snob and indulge in a culinary trashtastic feast.

So, curry paste, fish sauce, dried chilies, back to the pantry you go. Tonight I'm trading in my apron for my cleanest wife beater tank.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I am an internet girl. When I have a hankering for any piece of information I usually Google it or go directly to the source. For example, when I have a huge pork loin defrosting and need some inspiration on what I'm going to do with this sucker, I usually poke around on, and the websites of Taste of Home, Food Network, etc.

I had the huge realization this morning that here I am with this blog, begging for a job in the Test Kitchen of Taste of Home. Well, idiot me doesn't even have a subscription to the magazine. I will plead that this is my effort in being 'Green'. Yes, I don't want to add to the landfills, right? Sorry Al Gore, I had to bite the bullet on this one.

As of 10 minutes ago, I am a card-carrying subscriber to Taste of Home magazine. Expect gratuitous photos in the future of me perusing the mag.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Fig & Pine Nut Tapenade

We had a dinner party with friends this weekend and much to my advantage, one of the attendees is a photographer. And, he is great at taking pictures of food, which I believe is an art in itself. Therefore, I thought I would be foolish to not post this picture of the tapenade I made as an appetizer for the party. Believe me, this gorgeous picture will probably be the best of all food pics for quite a while until I start understanding the nuances of properly capturing a dish's beauty. So there you go and be prepared for all the unfocused, seemingly unappetizing images that will be forthcoming due to my inexperience.

Fig & Pine Nut Tapenade

1 c. chopped stemmed dried figs

1/3 c. water

1/3 c. chopped pitted Kalamata olives

1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

1 Tbs. drained capers, chopped

1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

1/2 c. toasted pine nuts

Combine chopped figs and 1/3 cup water in saucepan. Cook over medium heat until liquid evaporates and figs are soft. Transfer to medium bowl. Mix in all other ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Cover & refrigerate.

I served this tapenade with herbed goat cheese and crostini. The goat cheese mellows out the flavor of the tapenade and the crustiness of the crostini adds the necessary texture. Best when served at room temperature.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mission Statement

Okay, so I don't want to get all Jerry Maguire on your asses but I do feel that I need to provide a purpose for this blog, because honestly, it's the only reason that I'm writing this:


As long as I remember, I have been cooking. I remember always having an interest in food and flavors and being open to trying new things. Being that my parents are from Europe, I have been exposed to very un-American food from the get-go. I still cringe to think that I begged for chicken hearts plucked directly from the carcass when I was just a wee babe. I can happily say that I came from a home where cooking took place on a regular basis and proudly never had a taste of boxed macaroni and cheese until college.

So, that brings me to college. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BA in Journalism. I do not have a degree in Food Science. Yes, I did take one Food Science class in school but it bored me to pieces. My idea of food science was to open the fridge in the home that I shared with eight other women and create crazy casseroles with random ingredients. Yes, food stuffs that were found in between cases of beer, cheap wine, and bagels (remember the early 90's when carbs were not scary?) all became friends in a collective melange of savory flavor. The ability to improvise as such earned me the nickname of 'Dinty Moore' from my college roomies. I liked feeding everybody and the fact that I would have to pick off wart removal pads from the produce living in the veggie drawer didn't deter me from whipping up some home cooking for my ramen and saltine eating roommates.

So, you may ask why I even bring up college in the first place. Well, in order to get pretty much any job in the test kitchen of Taste of Home magazine, you need to have a degree in Food Science. Even to clean the damn kitchen. Seriously.

Well, I'm not going back to school to get this degree. I don't really want to toot my own horn, but I do feel that my cooking experience, knowledge, and passion will far surpass that of most owners of a BS in Food Science. But I do want a job at Taste of Home and this is what they require. How do I know that this is a prerequisite with no exceptions you may ask? Well I have sent my resume (which is marketing/advertising driven) to them a ridiculous amount of times for ANY job posting which involves employment in the test kitchen and..........they ignore me. I'm fairly certain that they think I'm a total nut-job who is more likely to use the test kitchen to whip up some cannabilistic cuisine.

So, let's call this blog Plan B. I will be using this as a forum to mostly discuss my cooking, my attempts to attract attention at Taste of Home magazine, and to call in any favors to ANYBODY who may read this in hopes that they know of someone who works there that can help this girl out.

You may need to give me a second in finding my way around in blog-land. While I feel completely at ease in beating egg whites to perfect, fluffy peaks to turn out an incredible Julia Child's cheese souffle, my comfort level here is akin to the new kid's first day at school. Let me feel my way around and I'm sure that I'll be more relaxed by the time we all head to the cafeteria for lunch.