Thursday, July 29, 2010

“Half & Half” Cake – My first attempt at making a cake with no eggs!

I decided to call this my “Half and Half” cake and let me explain why…

Recently I’ve been looking into vegan recipes… thanks to Shannon, she recommended a vegan chocolate cake recipe from a popular website! Can you guess?! Yes, that’s right…!! Can you believe there are no eggs in this cake recipe?! Crazy! Even crazier was adding a cup of water and teaspoon of white vinegar to the batter – and honestly, the smell of the batter was not so appetizing, but I hoped for the best! I liked the idea of making this cake though because the ingredients were much healthier than a regular chocolate cake. I decided to spice up the cake a little bit and mixed dark chocolate chips, chopped walnuts, and coconut flakes into the batter. Mmmmm….

The cake baked really well and eventually the smell was much more appetizing after it came out of the oven.

Oh by the way, of course this would happen to me… I took the cake out of the pan and it was pretty simple to get it out… unfortunately some of the cake had stuck to the bottom of the pan but it was nothing a little frosting couldn’t hide! I had actually thought I had dropped a piece of chocolate cake on the kitchen floor though. So I bent down to pick it up, luckily with a paper towel, and looked at it realizing it wasn’t cake at all! Turns out it was a little tiny baby frog carcass!! Can we say eww?! Like I said, good thing I had used a paper towel to pick it up. Ick.

Now, back to the cake… all though Shannon had recommended a vegan frosting she likes to use for this cake, I had ingredients in my refrigerator that would just go to waste if I didn’t use them. And as some of you may know, I’m leaving for a week to go see a very best friend, Crystal! So I really didn’t want to go out and buy new ingredients for the frosting as well as let ingredients I already had go to waste. Also, most of you know that I am not vegan, but I do like keeping an open mind with food which is why I have started learning more about the vegan diet. But are you ready for this one? I had about a cup left of heavy cream… an ingredient I used for the coconut cream pie. Instead of letting it go to waste I decided to make a whipped topping for my vegan cake. You are probably all laughing at me right now, right? I mean the frosting completely defeats the purpose of making the vegan cake. I know I know! But that’s what I did and I will try a vegan frosting the next time… probably with soy milk which I actually like! After frosting the cake, I topped it with crushed famous chocolate wafers and toasted coconut flakes.

I had a piece of this cake for dessert while David and his mom were enjoying the coconut cream pie. Let me tell you, this cake was actually very good! When you take the first bite, you notice it’s different, but it’s still moist and chocolatey. Yummy! Also, I think the add-ins (chocolate chips, coconut flakes, and walnuts) really spice up the cake!

By the way, I baked this cake the same day as making the pies. My refrigerator looked like I was running a bakery from home!

Double Trouble

So David isn’t really big on gifts, especially receiving them, but this year for his birthday he made one special request: homemade coconut cream pie. I found this recipe a while back that was Coconut Macadamia Nut Pie… now this is just calling David’s name because he LOVES macadamia nuts.

But wait! Apparently, David started telling the guys at work what he was getting for his birthday and their ears, eyes, and taste buds decided to perk up! When David was telling me about this later that evening, I realized he was trying to hint to me that he wanted me to make not one pie, but two! One pie for David (all to himself!) and one to bring to his work… Geez oh man!

This pie is not difficult to put together, but it has a custard center in it, which I would say was the biggest pain of this process! Since I was making two pies, I just decided to double up the recipe. So here I am making the custard on the stove… the recipe informs me that while stirring CONSTANTLY on medium heat it will take approximately 18 minutes to bring the custard to a boil and then it can be poured into the pie dish. So realizing I had doubled the recipe, I was prepared to be stirring for at least 36 minutes…give or take a few.

An HOUR later, I am still stirring!! See, the stove in our townhouse is not the greatest… so I was tweaking the temperature throughout the whole stirring experience. Here I am stirring and stirring and stirring and now the heat is sitting between medium high and high… I didn’t dear turn the heat higher for fear of the custard burning. I can’t complain too much though because all my hard work was well worth it.

Unfortunately I was a day late on making his pie... David was perfectly fine about it but I still felt terrible. But we celebrated the following night with David’s mom… Coffee and pie to keep the birthday celebration going! And hey, I’ve always been told by my grandmother, Bubby, and my mom, that you get to celebrate your birthday ALL month!

Happy Birthday David – a little substitute for the pie!

As most of you may know, I screwed up and was a day late making the pie David had requested for his birthday. On the night of his birthday, to make up for dessert, we decided to make s’mores instead. It was a good idea since the grill was already fired up! I decided to make up this fabulous dish of s’more fixings in place of David’s birthday pie. Jacki and I stuck a candle in the middle of a marshmallow and, when the time was right, we even sang happy birthday!! At least we only sang! It could have been worse!

P.S. Did anyone notice that little, long, skinny marshmallow in between the chocolates? We found that in the marshmallow bag!

A Special Dinner for the Birthday Boy!

I just love celebrations! Every holiday, whether it’s major or not, is always worth celebrating! Dinner for David’s birthday was grilled tuna with mango salsa, grilled veggies with a lemon pepper seasoning and healthy French fries. For an appetizer I served assorted raw veggies with Bethany’s healthy avocado dip. Yum!

By the way, I apologize for my awful picture… I was never meant to be a photographer! Ha!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I built my very own trifle!

David’s mom invited us over to dinner this past Sunday and all though we were told to just bring ourselves, I knew I couldn’t just show up empty handed (and bringing Bella over doesn’t count as bringing something….).

I remembered I still had homemade angel food cake in the freezer (I had previously sliced off a couple thin layers from the top of the cake to include it in my tropical cream pie), so I decided I would bring dessert! Now I didn’t want to just bring over some thawed-out cake that had already been cut a bit, so I decided I would chop up the cake into cubes and make it into a trifle! Fabulous idea with fresh fruits (strawberries, grapes, kiwi, and peaches), a light cool whip, and vanilla pudding! Yummy! Can we say guilt-free too?

Of course, because of my trifle idea, and the only clear, large bowl I had was a Pyrex bowl that we normally use for our salads, I felt the need to go out and buy a trifle bowl. I mean why not, right? I like to entertain, and I’m sure I’ll use it again! David and I decided to go on our, what I thought to be, “short” journey to buy a new dish! We started out at Old Time Pottery, since it is so close to us… and unfortunately that was a big, fat FAIL. So we then decided to head north to check out Ross. Normally we find everything at Ross but usually it’s an unexpected find. So our search for a trifle bowl did not succeed. Finally we headed to Target, where I found my cute, new trifle bowl… LOVE it! It only took three stores… I guess that’s not too terrible.

The dessert turned out great. But also, I will have to say that dinner was a hit! Thanks Jacki for having us over – your new chicken dish with black bean salsa was delicious! Love ya!

So David’s birthday is today… Happy Birthday Davie!! I love you honey buns!! To celebrate David’s birthday, we will be having a special meal! This means that new posts will be coming very shortly! We will be grilling tuna tonight and it will be accompanied with a mango salsa, grilled vegetables, healthy French fries, and assorted raw veggies with the avocado dip I posted previously. Tonight’s dessert will be s’mores… unfortunately the originally-planned dessert will be a day late for David’s birthday…. I couldn’t get my butt in gear fast enough…. it will be Coconut Macadamia Nut Pie, a special request from the birthday boy! So there’s more to come!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Healthy Guacamole!

If anyone watches Bravo then I’m sure you have seen Bethany Frankel! Honestly, when I first saw her in “Bethany Getting Married” and “Real housewives of NYC,” I didn’t know who she was and just thought she was one of those crazy ladies who loved to bring drama. So I Googled her and found out she is a natural foods chef! Now I’m interested! All though I don’t mind her shows either! I checked out her website though and found this recipe called “Low Fat Mock-a-Mole.” Just a healthier kind of guacamole that can be served with tortilla chips, fresh vegetables, or even a spread for fajitas! Delish!

So of course while I’m making up this dip, I’m bound to come across some issue, right? I mean, GEEZ-OH-MAN, do you know who this is?! Here I am running down the list of ingredients the recipe is calling for while I’m chopping and mashing away and I realize I have no ONION!! Ahh! To me, I’m thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’m totally not prepared, this is not like me….” So I decide to pull a first and text my neighbor, Jennifer, to see if she by any chance has an onion! Have you ever done that before? Asked a neighbor for an ingredient? I feel like I was bringing back something from “back then!” Haha. Unfortunately she didn’t have one, so me being lazy and not wanting to run to the store really quick in the middle of making this recipe and David busy with the grill, I decided that I would settle for onion powder (even though I’ve been on this kick with fresh produce and herbs). AND THEN!! Before I made the next move, I get a text from Jennifer saying she’s running to the store since she needs an onion too and will pick me up one! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU JENNIFER!! I really do have some great neighbors! Jennifer saved the day and my healthy guacamole turned out delicious!

A little twist on cupcakes!

I FINALLY had the chance to make such a unique cupcake! Who would have thought to make a simple little cupcake with COOKIE DOUGH in the middle! So I found this recipe (of course on my favorite recipe website, and decided to make a few modifications to it! Here we have moist chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting and a big surprise inside: cookie dough mixed with peanut butter chips and chopped Hershey’s milk chocolate bars. Sweet enough for ya? I’d recommend t a big glass of milk to go along with this.

The trick to these cupcakes was to make the cookie dough a day or two ahead of time, form into tablespoon-sized balls and then freeze them. The day of baking the cupcakes, before you pop them in the oven, take the frozen cookie dough balls out of the freezer and place one on top of each cupcake. This way the cookie dough doesn’t end up cooking all the way during the baking time. Yum!

So as most of you know, I have the biggest sweet tooth ever. Baking is my specialty and I LOVE sharing my special treats with others! And honestly, if I left them in the house, they would all be in my belly, so it’s smart of me to give them away! Ha! Oh and if anyone was interested, out of boredom I decided to look up the definition for "sweet tooth." Wikipedia stated, "A 'sweet tooth' is a colloquial term to describe the common psychological condition in which subjects feel an unnaturally strong urge for foods which are sweet." OH YEAH, that’s me all right… it’s the most powerful urge for sweets ever!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Who loves breakfast for dinner?!

Here is one meal I will never need a guideline for…. eggs!! The night before, David and I were discussing what we wanted to do for dinner the next night (one of our many nightly conversations!). I like to plan dinners ahead since I’m always cooking. It makes the process a little more convenient :) I suggested eggs and then suddenly David had a craving for a Southwestern omelet.

Ta-da!! Edy’s Cheesy Southwestern Omelet with a side of pan fried hash browns. Yum! Inside the omelet I added fresh bell pepper and Chile pepper, homemade taco seasoning and of course, CHEESE. And as you can see from the photo, I topped the omelet with a generous amount of cheese as well as fresh salsa (from Sam’s club) and a dollop of sour cream. I was “right on” with Davie’s taste buds!! I did follow a recipe for the hash browns though – I had never made them before! I used a new cookbook I bought (that supports breast cancer) and they turned out delicious!

By the way, if some of you are wondering why I put “Edy’s” in my recipe name, it’s because David calls me Edy. Honestly, when I hear him say “Rachel” I feel like I am in trouble and did something wrong! The name Edy stuck because my middle name is Edith, which I have never been quite fond of (it just sounds so old-ladyish!). I am finally okay with my middle name though after my best friend and sister decided to pick up old lady names to make me feel better. Yes, Heather is Edna and Michelle is Esther. Thanks ladies! I love you guys!! We even made t-shirts one time with our “old lady” names on them! David thought it would be funny to try to annoy me since I call him “Davie” so he started calling me “Edy.” So when you are ever around the two of us, all you will hear is Davie or Edy.

By the way, I just want to say thank you to everyone who have been following my blogs! I love that I have your support and that I can share my passion with you! Please let me know if you have any suggestions or think of something new I should try! Thank you again!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Baked Tofu with Ratatouille Vegetables

So I’ve been in this “no meat” mood for the past week. I may just be going through a little phase but I’ve been thinking about the vegetarian or even vegan option. It’s actually not as bad as I thought, as in there are more options for protein in your meals than just tofu! And I feel that you definitely learn more about nutrition (even though I tend to be a bit of a nutrition freak anyway). Maybe I’ll just be half and half…depending on my mood :)

I found this recipe on a vegan website. It caught my attention because I have never baked tofu before. Which means it didn’t break apart on me! And this time, thanks to Shannon, I used towels to soak up all the liquid from the tofu… it really is like a sponge! This way the tofu was able to absorb more flavor. The veggies were stir fried in a white wine sauce with garlic and fresh basil (from my little plant!), then transferred to a baking dish. The tofu was placed on top of the veggies and a sauce consisting of soy sauce, basil, and tomato paste was poured over the tofu. It was delicious, all though the recipe called for a little too much ground pepper than I would have liked. I know for next time!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

You stick the beer can where?!

Yes, here it is… Beer Butt Chicken! Something that has been on our list to try out for a while now! Now this is how I explained what it is on Facebook… ya stick the can up the chicken’s wazoo and the beer infuses into the meat making the chicken nice and moist and tasty! Yum! You can use any marinade for the chicken that you want! I rubbed it down with olive oil and then seasoned it with salt, onion salt, and paprika. Nothing complex. After talking to a friend though (Yes Erica, that’s you!), I learned that you can really get creative! Using juice instead of beer, throwing herbs into the can (like cloves of garlic)… seems like you can do anything! I just LOVE trying new recipes!!

Oh, and before I forget, David wanted me to inform you all of my proudest moment yesterday (a MAJOR brainfart). Here I am with this leftover beer can chicken and I’m cutting off pieces of chicken to put into a salad for me and a pasta dish for David. I’m yelling from the kitchen saying “David, this bird doesn’t have breast meat.” So David comes into the kitchen and points to where the breast area is. I look at him and look back at the chicken and while stabbing it with my knife I say “David it’s all bone, there is no meat.” He then informs me that the breast is on the other side of the chicken! Wow, ya learn something new every day! I’m a special one!

Monday, July 19, 2010

David’s New Baby

Ok, so since we have been grilling out so much in the past couple of weeks, I had to show you a picture of David’s new baby! I am so glad we have a grill these days… it’s perfect for summer time. And I love trying out new grilling recipes! Let me know if anyone has any favorite recipes! I want to know what you all love to grill!

Oh, by the way, I just have to mention that David is a pro at the grill! Go Davie! Love you!

Tropical Fruit Pie Mastered!

Made by the Publix Bakery...

and then...

Made by Rachel with lots of Love!

Mmm Mmm Mmm… Does this pie look delicious or what? It was hard work but it was all worth it! It definitely paid off in the end :) I was inspired to make this pie after David’s mom came over to our home with a fabulous dessert a couple of weeks ago. It was a Bavarian cream pie made from the Publix bakery, called “Tropical Fruit Pie” and oh boy was it tasty! So here we are trying to figure out what exactly is in the pie… the filling was light and creamy with a perfect flavor, the pie crust tasted like a cookie, the fruit was so fresh, and there was this thin layer of some kind of moist cake between the filling and fruit! I searched online looking for some hope of finding this recipe, but no such luck unfortunately.

The next time David and I went grocery shopping I decided to stop at the bakery. The first baker I came across was a bit standoffish though – I asked her about the pie and first, she made it clear that I would not find out the recipe and second, she wasn’t 100% sure of the pie I was referring to. Another baker overheard us talking and said “Oh, I can make that…” So I told her I was just asking about it to see if I could find out the recipe. Without a lot of detail she said the filling was half custard and half whipped topping. She even said that Publix makes their own whipped topping and they can actually sell it to me. But I knew if I was going to make it, then I’d be making everything from scratch. I then asked her what the thin layer between the fruit and the filling was… aha! Yellow cake! I thanked the lady and went on my way, happy to get some insight about this fabulous pie.

This past Sunday we planned for a cookout and I was going to try to make this pie for dessert. So Saturday night I decided to do a lot of prepping so that I could easily put the cake together Sunday morning.

The first thing on my list was to bake a cake so that I could slice a thin layer from the top to put onto my pie. Rather than yellow cake I decided to make an angel food cake. Thank goodness for my KitchenAid mixer – those egg whites are fighters! If you know anything about making angel food cake, you will know it take a LONG time for the egg whites to stiffen – what a pain! Once the cake was cooled, I sliced a couple of thin layers off the top of the cake to save for my pie, and put the rest of the cake in the freezer for another time (maybe down the road I’ll make some kind of angel food cake trifle or something).

Now it was time to prepare the graham cracker crust, which I had assumed Publix had used for their pie. I forgot to ask when I was talking to the baker. I cheated and used graham cracker crumbs – it was the easiest part of this pie. Unfortunately I screwed up somewhere along the way. Maybe I didn’t bake my pie crust long enough but it came out more crumbly and had trouble staying together – but it still tasted good! If I’d screw up on anything, it would be the easiest part. Go me!

My next recipe on the list was to make the custard! Almost like a vanilla pudding. To tell you the truth I have no clue what the difference is – maybe custard is a bit thicker? So here I am making this custard in a small pot on the stove, making sure I read the directions very carefully. The last thing you want to do is add the eggs at the wrong time and end up cooking them. Phew! Success… my custard looked great. I shoved it in the fridge to work with it in the morning.

And then it was time for the whipped cream! This recipe I used called for gelatin though. Quite a few people said they had never heard of gelatin in a whipped cream recipe but I decided to try it regardless. Well, with my KitchenAid mixer it was nice and easy watching the heavy cream become thicker and thicker. My ONLY complaint about my whipped cream though would be the gelatin! That evil gelatin! The directions said to dissolve the gelatin in a liquid, allow it to cool slightly (it would still be a liquid at this point) and then slowly add it into the heavy cream while it’s mixing. Well the gelatin began to gel a little before I added it to the cream. At this point, I didn’t realize anything was wrong. I made the whipped cream, it looked great, so I stuck it in the fridge since I wouldn’t have to deal with it until the next day. So Sunday morning when I’m taking out the whipped cream to start working with it, I realize there is a problem. All I see are hardened-gel-like chunks of something in the whipped cream. What the hell is that? After some thinking, I realized that only some of the gelatin had been incorporated into the cream when I was making it the night before. Oops. So I stood there picking out as many chunks as I could find before putting the pie all together. The last thing I wanted was someone to have a piece of pie and get a little surprise! I will tell you this though, the whipped cream still tasted great though! Next time I will use a recipe without the gelatin though!

The pie came together beautifully. I got a little crazy decorating with the whipped cream though. Before there was whipped cream in the center of the pie, I had layed out halved red grapes with a big raspberry in the middle. It looked so simple and delicate, but I felt it needed more at that moment. So I decided to try to decorate around all the grapes until I realize it looked terrible. So I covered the whole middle with whipped cream to hide my horrible attempt at decorating! Luckily, David came to my rescue and gave me a great idea to cover up my mess – spreading out the whipped cream and placing something right in the middle. We fixed it! Yay!

The pie ended up tasting great! I’m so glad we could share it with friends and family. I apologize again for the gelatin boogers!! At least I know for next time now. And hey, no one’s perfect :) LOL. Oh! For the love of food!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Homemade Marinara Meat Sauce! Bon Appétit!

I tell ya, once you’ve made your own pasta sauce it is so difficult going back to the jarred stuff! I originally found this recipe (a couple of years ago) from Now, a funny story for you though. How did I come across this recipe? It’s not that I wanted to make my own pasta sauce. But I was actually looking for recipes that had a certain ingredient in it…. Fennel seed. Yes, one day I accidently bought fennel seed thinking that it was the same thing as caraway seeds… I DON’T THINK SO! Oops… but like I have said before, you live and you learn. So I decided to try out this recipe with fennel seed in it – why not, right? Literally, a couple thousand people had rated this recipe very high, so I felt confident. The sauce was actually for a lasagna (I have made it a few times before), but it obviously works for just pasta too! Oh, by the way, the fennel seed flavors the sauce wonderfully!

This time I tweaked the recipe a little though. Last week, our neighbors had David and I over for dinner. Pasta with a thick, chunky marinara sauce (meatballs and sausage included) was on the menu. The marinara was combined with pureed vegetables to help thicken it up. What a great idea right? And a note to parents: this is how you get your kids to eat their veggies… puree vegetables into the marinara sauce. They won’t notice a difference! I never had a problem eating my veggies though!

So I decided to puree carrots and add them to my sauce. Really, you couldn’t even tell they were in there! I also added diced bell peppers, ground beef , sliced turkey sausage, and fresh spices (got to use the leaves from my new basil plant!) to my sauce. Yum! Oh but wait, another funny story for you to keep you humored…. I was using tomato paste in my sauce, and the recipe calls for two cans of tomato paste, but I only had one. So I had remembered a while back I had bought a tube of tomato paste, which is good to use if you are only using a small amount – it can be refrigerated for a later use. Since I needed a whole can though, I just decided to put in the whole tube of paste. So I’m squeezing and squeezing, trying to get it all out… and as I am nearing the end of the tube it was harder to get the paste out. Now remember, be careful, and make sure you are aiming the opening of the tube into the pot and not at yourself! Lesson learned! Tomato paste all over my shirt… and the wall… figures… it’s me!

The sauce was delicious though. I served it over tortellini, which you can’t exactly see in the picture (I LOVE sauce, can ya blame me?). I topped the dish with fresh basil – yum! Bon appétit!

It’s a fiesta in my mouth!

Here we have it! Salsa chicken accompanied by watermelon salsa. Lots of salsa but very different variations! The watermelon salsa was posted previously, thanks to Jacki, but this time I made it and used the newest baby of the household – fresh cilantro that I will continue to try to grow! I was at Publix looking for fresh cilantro, and the only available cilantro was potted, so I figured I would buy the plant – the price was worth it! I also bought fresh basil too, which I will use for future recipes! Oh – and I totally would have posted pictures of my new babies, if I hadn’t already pulled the leaves off them! I didn’t think to take pictures before I started using them! Hopefully I will be able to take pictures once the leaves grow back! That will also mean, my sweet talking, daily watering, and making sure they get some plant food from time to time (to stay healthy) is working!

The chicken was seasoned with my own “taco seasoning” blend, topped with fresh salsa (I cheated and bought the salsa from Sam’s club, but it’s delicious!), and then baked. The spices from the chicken paired perfectly with the watermelon salsa! It is nice making foods that are healthy and taste so fresh.

Grilling out on a Saturday night!

What’s on the menu for Saturday night? Perhaps something new? How about grilled Jamaican jerk chicken with a side of spiced oven-baked potato fries and freshly steam green beans? And don’t forget the dessert! Roasted marshmallows for S’mores! Delish!

I knew I was in the mood for a new kind of chicken marinade. I came across jerk chicken when I was checking out the Food and Wine website and had realized here was something I had yet to try! When I found the recipe I was set on testing out, we did not yet have a grill, so my plan was to bake it in the oven.

David and I were running errands on Saturday and as we were roaming around Target I came across the “Patio and Garden” area (David happened to be checking out the hybrid bikes there at the time). Of course! Grills! David had said a few times before that we would eventually get one for our place – we just hadn’t seen a good price though. So here I am surrounded by all these grills within our price range and I’m plotting to see if David will go for it this time. It was also on my mind of how great it would be to grill-out tonight, especially if we were going to be having jerk chicken.

I catch up with David and in my sweetest tone with big puppy-dog eyes, I ask him about the grills. Here I am trying to sell him on the idea of buying a new grill, and it actually looks like he’s going to go for it! So I give him a kiss on a cheek and tell him how great it would if we purchased one today. He doesn’t say no, but he doesn’t say yes… he says he’ll think about it while we continue shopping around target. Okay, so we have a maybe – better than nothing, right? Of course walking around target was driving me crazy though. I had two things on my mind: 1.) the grill and 2.) Was David going to say yes?

As we are nearing the end, we go back over to the grills and David starts to say no to the idea. Maybe the price wasn’t good enough, but he began saying we didn’t look at enough stores to really see what kind of grill would work for us. So of course I begin to throw a small fit since it seemed like we would never get one. He has been saying we would get a grill for months now and we had already been to a few stores to check out grills within the past month. So from my perspective, RIGHT NOW was a good opportunity to finally get the grill! With David sensing how upset I was, we compromised and decided after we checked out of Target we would go look at a few more places to compare grill prices. If we didn’t like what we saw at other places then we would head back to Target.

We stopped at Home Depot… no, too expensive, especially with the sizes…

Then we stopped at Tractor Supply Co… one grill that was big enough to feed an army! Definite no!

From there we stopped at Sam’s Club… again prices were ridiculous… and the grills were huge!

So we began heading back to Target. But wait! We had to pass Lowe’s first… may as well check out grills there! Aah, yes – heaven! We decided on a charcoal grill which had a great size for the price. Thanks Davie!!! Love you!! There is even a place to attach a smoker (but we won’t purchase that until later down the road). As an early birthday present to David, I decided to buy him the grill cover since the grill will have to sit outside, as well as a charcoal chimney starter (it heats the coals in no time!).

We headed back home… I called David’s mom to invite her for dinner and celebrate the newest addition to our home :) David started putting together our new grill and I began to prep for dinner!

I used the food processor for the jerk chicken marinade – what fun! I don’t use the food processor too often, but I should! It just makes everything so much easier! Well, for the exception of the clean-up part!

Let me tell you something – David was made for the grill! The jerk chicken turned out delicious – moist and juicy and cooked perfectly! And nice grill marks too! While David was busy cooking the chicken, I worked on the side dishes. My second attempt at the healthy French fries came out fabulous!

Overall, the dinner was great! We had great company! And thanks to Jacki, we were able to end our great meal with S’mores!

P.S. Did I ever tell you how much fun I have lighting marshmallows on fire?! Ha!

Friday, July 9, 2010

A lil’ bit o’ peanut butter with your brownie!

Ok! Never tried this before and honestly, I thought it would be a little too much for a simple brownie, but GEEZ-OH-MAN…. YUM! Here we have it – homemade fudgy brownies with Reese’s peanut butter chips topped with creamy peanut butter frosting – delicious! The frosting was perfect – not too sweet and perfect for this kind of brownie!

Now of course I should tell you about some kind of disaster, right? Thought you’d never ask! No problem with the brownies, but the frosting was another story! Well I thought I was going about making the frosting the smart way by using my KitchenAid mixer. And I was… but I decided to add the confectioner’s sugar to the bowl while it was mixing…. The next thing I know, my measuring cup gets stuck between the inside of the bowl and the beater and POOF! A big white cloud of confectioner’s sugar! Woohoo! Go me! I knew I could do it. Powder all over my clothes, all other the KitchenAid, countertop and even the floor (Bella was trying to be a mop for me… how thoughtful)… and 15 minutes later I noticed it all over the wall, in clumps! I mean if anyone would do it, it would be me. All David could hear coming from the kitchen was “Oh No!”, “Crap!”, “It’s all over me!” and so on… you get the gist!

David and I got into them shortly after making them up… amazing and perfect with a glass of milk! We took these to work and school (or else we most likely would have eaten them all last night)– BIG HIT! Ooooh gotta love sweets!

What did you make?!

I know what some of you are probably thinking… “TOFU??!! Yuck!” But it is actually very good if you know how to cook it right. And it helps that you grew up eating delicious tofu soup that mom always made :) So I decided to make Coconut Curry Tofu. Indeed it was very tasty! Unfortunately David wasn’t brave enough to try this concoction but it turned out very good. I decided to try this recipe by trusting the reviews that had been posted for it. is normally where I get great recipes from – sometimes I get ideas to modify the recipes more to my liking too.

The sauce was not spicy like most curry dishes and it gave the tofu and vegetables a nice light flavor. I will have to say though, I’m not the biggest fan of mushrooms but a simple substitution like zucchini works wonders! Oh and an important note – when using Bok Choy, only use the leaves! The stem, which looks similar to celery, is tasteless. Hey, ya live and ya learn!

So I tend to always make enough food for an army (at least I am a fan of freezing single-portion meals), and last night I definitely estimated the amount wrong. Here I am with this large skillet hoping I’m going to fit everything into it, and of course the next thing I know, my skillet is overflowing! I’m thinking “How could my skillet be too small?!” So I transferred everything to a Dutch oven pot and luckily my mess was not as bad as it could have been. I think I may be queen of DISASTER (I’m sure there are a few of those queens out there though!). And soon enough I will be able to share a wonderful/humorous story with you throughout this blog. Some kind of mess is bound to happen when I'm around!

If anyone is interested in trying this I can post the recipe! Let me know :) I’m having leftovers tonight and I’m thinking of serving it over a bit of brown rice. I can imagine that the coconut curry sauce will flavor the rice nicely!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The traditional family recipe, Brisket!

Here we go - Brisket along with sauteed asparagus, oven-baked sweet and white potato wedges, and watermelon relish. Yum!

I didn't think I had it in me to cook up this traditional recipe in my family - Brisket! The last thing I want to do is make a traditional recipe and completely screw it up! But we had success! It was delicious, flavorful and brought back special memories. I even had my first experience with an electric knife and finally understood what it meant to cut “against the grain.” Oh – the little things in life that excite me!

I have to thank four people though – or else I would not have been able to have such a successful dinner. First off, I have to thank my mom. If not for your advice prior to making this I would be completely lost! Even the little things like how we need the fat on the brisket to keep it moist, flavorful and juicy… I probably scared the hell out of the butcher at the grocery store when I yelled, “Stop! Don’t cut that fat off! I need it!” Surely he looked at me like I was insane. David – thank you for being my taste tester! And willing to tell me when something I have made is just terrible. Luckily it didn’t happen this time! I love you! To my new neighbor, Courtney! Thank you for showing me how to make “healthy French fries!” Mine were a bit well done but very flavorful… and definitely delicious with loads of ketchup! And Jacki, David’s mom, thank you for making the watermelon relish (as well as bringing that delicious dessert)! Your dish has opened my mind and inspired me to try new herbs, like Cilantro, as well as learn how to incorporate them into our every day meals. Thank you!

Excited to Start My First Blog!

I am so glad I have decided to start a blog to share with you all! Welcome to my page! With a bit of inspiration to do this from a few friends, I have decided that I would show you all what I have a passion for! Thanks for visiting! -Rachel