Tag Archives: Cooking

It Made The List

22 Sep

I’ve always been in love with it. Some people take it too far and it becomes an uncontrollable obsession and I get that, but for me it’s always been love.

I love food especially the good kind. And it so happens that my relationship with it went up a notch thanks to The Sopranos.

I dove into the cookbook this weekend in an effort to get out of an emotional funk. The beach worked its magic as usual but once I got home there was something still lingering there, and seeing how dinner was just around the corner I thought I’d comfort my soul. My taste buds were thanking me too.

A savory and hearty mix of tomato, ditalini, cannellini beans and  Pecorino Romano cheese was making me appreciate all my senses. Especially the kind that can taste and smell flavorful. And the thing is it was a simple recipe, just a couple of ingredients but the combination was amazingly delicious.  So much so that the dish has made my list. My comfort food list. Do you have one?

Dude.

For someone who grew up in a dysfunctional family, for someone who’s a writer, for someone who’s a mother of two, for someone who’s ever been married, for someone who’s in the George Costanza phase of life, for someone who’s ever had a bad day …

Pasta e Fagioli.

 

Yummmmmm

Yummmmmm

 

That’s got to be on your comfort food list.

Have you had it?

If not, I strongly encourage you to either get it or make it.  The Sopranos Family Cookbook happened to have a great recipe. I love the library and appreciate all the culinary literature they have on hand. I wasn’t much for cookbooks prior to me 12 x 12 Chocolate Challenge. I only read fiction or nonfiction. But I realize I’m a fan. The thing with cookbooks is that they too open you up to new discoveries, Comfort Food Lists discoveries, which can eventually lead to Bucket List Adventures. And I’m all for that.

 

Bucket List Adventure … Sunday Dinner Sopranos Style

20 Aug

Most of the time it includes traveling to a different country, exploring a new culture,  or doing something outrageously adventurous like throwing yourself off a plane or bridge.

Yeah.

I’ve got those on my list.

But for some reason my list also includes food. Delicious savory food, baking a cake from scratch, baking my kid’s birthday cakes.

Check, and check.

In fact a couple of months ago I baked 12 cakes from scratch, chocolate cakes.

Dude.

Duuuuuuuude.

But in addition to baking cakes from scratch I also wanted to make my own sauce … or as some Italians refer to it … “Gravy”. I’ve watched Goodfellas, The Sopranos, The Godfather … they all have scenes with sauce. Either the dudes making it or the someone’s mother. Stirring the sauce and having Sunday dinner. I mean we have Sunday dinner but it’s usually rice, beans, and carne asada. And there’s really nothing wrong with that, nothing at all.

But “Gravy” has always been on my list, along with skydiving, visiting Italy, and meeting Robert DeNiro.

It’s up there.

And thanks to the good old public library I was able to finally check out the Sopranos Cookbook I mentioned a couple of weeks ago and whip up a batch of Sunday Gravy … and it only took about four hours.

 

 

Dude.

Duuuuuude. Can I tell you how amazingly impressed I was with myself? I dipped the spoon in the savory sauce and brought it up for a taste test. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. It was the kind of awesome that put you in a Zen state of mind. I know I’m Guatemalan through and through, but with that sauce I’m surprised I don’t have some part of me that’s Italian.

I was so happy it had turned out exactly the way I thought it would, because sometimes things don’t work out that way, just like life. You get all jazzed up about a recipe and then it doesn’t end up looking like the picture, or taste the way you thought it would on the first try. Just like life, you get all jazzed up about the future and then you realize you’re barely staying afloat with a life preserver and feel like you’re staring in Shark Week’s I Survived JAWS 2.

I learned … you need time and practice to perfect it. Both cooking and life.

So I was a little worried that I might need to make a couple of batches before I had that Holy-Crap-feeling.

But I’m happy to report that I was lucky enough my first time.

In fact I hope luck strikes more than once, because this entire cookbook is filled of Bucket List recipes, so it might take me a while to get through it.

But I got this.

I got this.

And my kids are definitely grateful for this Bucket List Adventure.

 

 

12 x 12 Chocolate Challenge: Epic Finale

31 May

 

Holy Crap.

This one made my knees buckle.

This was it.

This was the big mamma jamma, definitely worthy of being on The List. Definitely worthy of being on anyone’s list. It was an amazing cake. A take-off-your-shoes-and- dance-Footloose-like-Kevin-Bacon kind of cake.

Yeah … it was that good.

Moist. Crumbly. Decadent. Chocolatey. Sweet. Coconutty. It got to all my senses. Layers of  fluffy light chocolate cake embracing a rich coconut-pecan filling … I mean I could even hear the chocolate telling me it loved me for using it in such a spectacular way.

I mean I had to do something amazing. Something foot-stomping-woo-hoo worthy. Not only was it cake 12 of the 12 x 12 Chocolate Challenge, but my L.A. Kings were one game away from The Stanley Cup Finals … sadly they’re still one more game away. But that wasn’t the only celebration I was anticipating … it was the last day of kindergarten and I needed something to commemorate the occasion. It was a Sandbox-List-Hallmark kind of moment for my son and I needed a cake worthy of all of that awesomeness happening in the Guat Household.

I found it.

German Chocolate Cake.

But let me tell you … it was no Betty Crocker dump and pour kind of cake. I haven’t seen something so complicated since my first recipe the Double Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Buttercream. But despite all the measuring, mixing, stirring, chopping, and simmering in the kitchen I persevered. The chocoholic in me insisted and this time I had no chocolate failures. I was proud that my chocolate journey had ended with such an epic finale. No letdowns and no meltdowns, just success in all that tastiness. This one possessed the supernatural power to change your state in a Tony-Robbins instant.

I sat there in the quiet of the night tripping out on baking skills I did not know I even had and appreciating the patience it took to make 12 cakes from scratch. I survived the craziness of measuring cups, the disaster of powered chocolate and melted chocolate in the nooks and crannies of the tiles on the floor, and the frosting on the walls, mixers, and counter tops. I had made it. I was thankful for The Swiffer and OxyClean … they truly helped me survive the chocolate-a-thon. And at the end of all of this I didn’t burn the place down … the kitchen was still standing and I was perhaps two-to-five-to 1000 pounds heavier.  🙂

But it was all good because the evening ended with an awesome cake on the counter and my son giving me a high-five.

 

 

Recipe courtesy of Spoonful of Flavor.

 

For the cake:
  • 2 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 6 tbsp. water
  • 16 tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the filling:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 6 tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut, toasted
For the syrup:
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. dark rum
For the chocolate icing:
  • 8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the edges of two 9-inch round cake pans. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Line the bottom of each pan with a circle of parchment paper.
  2. Melt the chopped chocolate with the water in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir until smooth, then set aside until it cools to room temperature.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 1/4 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate. Add the egg yolks, one at a time.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix in half of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture beating on low speed until incorporated. Mix in the buttermilk and the vanilla until combined. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients.
  5. In a clean dry bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until the form soft, droopy peaks. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold about one-third of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining egg whites just until incorporated.
  6. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans and bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. While the cakes are cooling, make the filling. In a medium saucepan combine the cream, sugar, and egg yolks. Put the butter, salt, toasted coconut and pecan pieces in a large bowl; set aside. Heat the cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to thicken and coat the back of the spoon (about 170-175 degrees F on an instant read thermometer). Pour the hot custard into the pecan-coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted. Cool completely to room temperature. It will thicken as it cools.
  8. To make the syrup, in a small saucepan, heat the sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the dark rum.
  9. To make the icing, place the chopped chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and butter. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator until firm enough for icing the cake.
  10. To assemble the cake, cut both cake layers in half horizontally, using a serrate bread knife. Set the first cake layer on a cake plate. Brush well with syrup. Spread 3/4 cup of the coconut filling over the cake layer, making sure to reach the edges. Set another cake layer on top. Repeat, using the syrup to brush each cake layer, then spreading 3/4 cup of the coconut filling over each layer, including the top. Ice the sides with the chocolate icing. Pipe a decorative border of the chocolate icing around the top, encircling the coconut topping.

 

 

 

12 x 12 Chocolate Challenge … I Can See How Some People Can’t Live Without Their Double Mocha Cappuccino Half-Decaf Latte Espressos

2 May

I’m not much of a coffee drinker.

Never have been … belong to the tea minority.

However I do drink it once a year … on my Dad’s birthday just to honor the “let’s have a cup of coffee and talk about life” conversations we used to have every once in while. So seeing how our favorite hockey team made it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I thought I’d whip up the Chocolate Coffee Cake and think of the conversations my dad and I would have had while watching the game.

The recipe called for instant coffee, but knowing my Dad, the coffee connoisseur that he was, instant coffee wouldn’t cut it. Freeze-dried crystals didn’t have a chance. Folgers never had a place in our pantry. It just wasn’t tolerated. So I brewed up a cup of one of his favorites … Guatemalan coffee hailing from the Antigua region.

He’d definitely like it. And after tasting the Chocolate Coffee Cake I can see how some people can’t live without their double mocha cappuccino half-decaf latte espresso. It made the chocolate more chocolatey.

This week’s secret ingredient definitely helped classify the cake as a change your life type of dessert. I’m beginning to impress myself with my baking skills. This week’s challenge definitely came out rich, moist, decadent and with an awesome crumb. Not dry, not mushy. Just right.

Coffee and chocolate … definitely a good combination. Definitely Guatacular.

 

Duuuuuude. I think nuts make everything better.

Duuuuuude. I think nuts make everything better … yeah after my second piece … no doubt.

 

 

The secret ingredient.

The secret ingredient.

 

The strawberries were a nice touch. I'm glad I thought of them.

The strawberries were a nice touch. The original recipe called for raspberries, but seeing how I had an awesome cake with raspberries already, I thought I’d choose a different berry. I’m glad I did. Totally put me on a new sweetness level. Dentists beware.

 

 

Recipe Courtesy of My Life Runs on Food.

 

Ingredients
1-cup sugar
1-3/4 cups flour
3/4-cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs; room temperature
1-cup organic whole milk; room temperature
1/2-cup olive/neutral oil
2 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. instant coffee
1 cup boiling water
Chocolate Icing (Recipe Follows)
Garnish: Any nut and/or berries

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease, flour and line with parchment paper 9-inch round baking pans.
2. In a large mixing bowl (one used for the mixer), toss sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the milk,eggs, oil, and vanilla.
4. Add the milk ingredients to the dry/flour ingredients in the large bowl. Mix until just incorporated.
5. Add instant coffee to the boiling water. Pour into the batter and mix until just incorporated. The batter will be thin.
6. Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Try to make sure they are of equal weight.
7. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
8. Cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes and remove the cakes from the pans to continue cooling.
9. When the cakes are completely cool, frost cakes.
10. Garnish with chopped nuts and berries
11. Enjoy!

Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients
3 tbsp. instant coffee
1/3-cup whole, organic milk; warm-hot, not boiling
1 stick (1/2-cup) butter
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2-3/4 to 3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Directions
1. Add instant coffee to the warm milk. Let cool.
2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small pot. Cool slightly.
3. Place cocoa powder in the bowl of the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Pour butter into the cocoa powder and mix thoroughly.
4. Add a third of the milk to the cocoa powder and mix thoroughly. Add half the powder sugar into frosting and mix thoroughly. Continue to alternate between the milk and the powdered sugar, ending with the milk. Add the vanilla and continue whisking until smooth. If frosting is too thick/rough add a little more milk until smooth.

 

 

 

 

 

The Seinfeld Chronicles: My Big Salad Moment

28 Apr

It’s worse than taking the last potato chip.

It’s worse than drinking all the Simply Orange and then leaving the carton in the fridge.

It’s worse than eating the last piece of chocolate cake.

Yeah … it’s pretty bad. It’s a did-that-just-happen-to-me-yeah-it-did-I can’t-believe-that-just-happened-to-me moment. And only one person could understand what I was going through, could understand the principle of the thing.

The principle.

Costanza. George Costanza. He knows exactly what I’m talking about.

“Yeah sure … you’re welcome.”

I sat there on the couch and I heard it, but I couldn’t believe it. I mean it’s family. My family. And within this Guat familial structure you know you’re not supposed to cross culinary lines. You’re just not.

The kitchen is sacred ground. You don’t go taking credit for something that isn’t yours. If it’s Tia Lola’s guacamole, it’s Tia Lola’s guacamole.  You don’t go passing it off as your own. Just because you put the guacamole in an avocado looking bowl doesn’t mean you should get the thank you that rightfully belongs to the chef. If it’s my broiled chicken in special red sauce, then it’s mine. You can’t go off pretending like you made it. You can’t.  I mean you may kid around a bit, but in the end you usually cave into the truth.

This did not happen.

I saw the thank you happen as she handed the plate over and then the you’re welcome followed. And I sat there in my George Costanza state of mind as compliments were being exchanged. I sat there waiting for it. Waiting for the … oh no I didn’t make it, she did.

I was waiting for it.

And it never came.

 

Has this happened to you?

Has this happened to you?

 

Normally I guess I would have let it go, but the compliments kept coming in and she just took them. Just grabbed them. She stole them, really. It was like class 5 felony.

And in truth she could have stopped it at any time. There were plenty of pause breaks. But she continued to nod her head and smile, as if taking the chicken out of the package was somehow a contribution to the final dish worthy of a Food Network Challenge. No dude. No it wasn’t and she knew it too. She knew. But what made the moment worse was the fact that someone in my family that rarely gives thank yous or compliments was gushing over the chicken, asking for seconds and thirds and even a take-home plate. And there she was taking the apron off and pretending she had something to do with that bird.

Dude.

I had no words. I sat there betrayed by my family in the kitchen.

I was just feeling the George Costanza in me bubble out.

But I waited. I waited for her to leave and then said …  Duuuuuuude … that was my chicken! What the hell?

And all I got was a raised eyebrow questioning the validity of my statement.

Dude.

Serenity now.

 

 

 

12 X 12 Chocolate Challenge … The Light One

4 Apr

The creative minds of my fellow chocolate lovers amaze me. It never occurred to me that someone could create a Hot Chocolate Cake. How do people come up with that?

I’m a tea drinker myself, but just because I enjoy my Yogi Tea before bedtime doesn’t mean I don’t savor a good cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows on an extra cold day. So it wasn’t a surprise that I enjoyed the chocolatey treat of this week’s 12 x 12 Chocolate Challenge.

Hot Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.

It was definitely moist and rich on the cocoa bean side, but lighter than the other cakes in this challenge. Probably had something to do with the fluffy frosting. It’s no wonder my kids particularly enjoyed this cake, especially the frosting. They are taking the taste testing phase of these challenges very seriously. So glad I eased up on the sugar used for the frosting otherwise it would have been too sweet and my kids would have never gone to sleep. Also glad their portions are on the tiny side, nothing like mom portions. I feel my stress level requires larger pieces. All moms deserve bigger pieces. It’s how they get to their Zen State of Mind.

 

My tasty end of day  portion with my cup of tea.

My tasty end of day portion with my cup of tea.

 

So if you’re looking for a chocolatey cake that’s not too heavy you might want to give it a try. Although I’m not sure how many calories are in this thing … I figure a lot. So if you’re on a diet, this might not be for you.

 

 

Ingredients

1 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 c. hot chocolate (I use 1 cup of hot water mixed with 1.25 oz. of hot chocolate powder)
1 ¾ c. granulated sugar
1 ¾ c. all-purpose flour
2 ½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 large eggs
3/4 c. whole milk
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/4 c. Greek yogurt or sour cream (not fat-free)
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans; set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and hot chocolate; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  4. With an electric mixer (either hand or stand), beat eggs for 1 minute.
  5. Add milk, butter, and yogurt. Beat until well-combined.
  6. Stir in vanilla extract until incorporated.
  7. Add hot chocolate mixture, and stir to combine.
  8. Add flour mixture, and stir in until just combined.
  9. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.
  10. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  11. Cool in pans for 10 minutes.
  12. Remove cakes from pans and cool on wire rack until room temperature.
  13. The cake is now ready to frost and assemble

 

Recipe courtesy of I Heart Eating.

Sorry Bisquick. Sorry Aunt Jemima. I’m Afraid Trisha Kicks Ass …

20 Jan

Most people wouldn’t think much of it, but as someone who learned to appreciate the little victories in the George Costanza phase of her life, this was big.

Huge.

So big that I high-fived myself.

I was living on a high all morning long because of this culinary accomplishment.

But I couldn’t take all the credit. Someone else helped contribute to the great mood. It was Trisha. Yup. Trisha Yearwood. I’ve never met her, but I’d like to thank her for helping me become mom extraordinaire on Sunday morning. She’s the one responsible for this culinary masterpiece that took place.

I knew she was a country superstar, I knew it and I was a fan, but I had no idea that her skills extended to the kitchen. And in truth I wouldn’t have experienced such a spectacular morning had I not been the jackass that forgot to pickup the Bisquick or Aunt Jemima instant pancake mix at the market. But this dumbass transgression proved to be an awesome moment of creation for me.

I had promised my son pancakes in the morning, and seeing how I was too lazy to pack the kids into the car and go to the supermarket — moms know that going to the market is an entire mission that needs to be prepared for and getting the kids in and out of the car takes like the longest ten minutes ever — I really didn’t have the energy that morning to embark on a supermarket mission with the loading and unloading. So I looked in the pantry and noticed I had plenty of ingredients to whip something else from scratch … all I needed was a recipe.

And this is where Ms. Yearwood came in. I found her on the Food Network and decided to give her recipe a try.

Dude.

This yielded the perfect pancake.

Image via FoodNetwork.com because I was too busy eating to take a picture.

Image via FoodNetwork.com because I was too busy eating to take a picture.

Perfect.

I couldn’t believe it. I was just talking about this with fellow blogger Susie Lindau the other day. And now bam! Thanks to Trisha I had made the perfect pancake. Not just in golden fluffy appearance and spectacular circumference, but in taste. Taste!

Dude.

I was amazed at myself.

The best pancake I had ever tasted in my life, was in Australia. I never forgot it. I sat there at the buffet and stuffed my face with those blueberry pancakes. I could care less about the calories or carbs. I was in Australia, damn it! And these were Australian pancakes … and they were awesome. I hadn’t tasted anything like that before … and then on Sunday I repeated that tasty experience and my whole body was thanking me.

I sat there appreciating every syrupy bite that made me close my eyes in just sheer appreciation of this masterpiece.

I’d like to say that I have proof and took an awesome Food Network type of picture to present it as evidence, but I was so hungry that I didn’t have time to find the camera. I just sat there a moment and admired my pancake for a minute before taking the first bite. After that I had to pause just to bear witness to such an amazing pancake. I patted myself on the back and continued my feast.

At first I was worried that I was exaggerating a bit, but then I looked up at my son.

He smiled, gave me a thumbs up, and asked if I had made more.

Dude.

Sorry Bisquick. Sorry Aunt Jemima I’m afraid that Trisha kicks ass.

 

Happiness Project Update 22: The Food Network Adventure Begins

21 Feb

This is where failure usually happens. You think being 37, I’d be used to it by now and maybe even immune to it, but no. It still stings. Even though there is an abundance of chocolate covering every stumble and fall, it’s not easy “finding the lesson” when things don’t go the way you hoped. But when things work out, it’s definitely a do-a-cartwheel feeling.

“Do what you do.”

Pursuing a passion. I’ve got lots of these, and thanks to The Happiness Project I’ve been able to do many cartwheels this year and last year, most of them involving sports or other adventures requiring BenGay afterward, like the triathlons, and The Warrior Dash. But I think this chapter may be asking me to pursue a passion I haven’t done yet.

Image via happiness-project.com

Image via happiness-project.com

And I wondered, well other than sports, writing, television, movies and books what else am I passionate about that I haven’t explored? I’ve dedicated parts of my Happiness Project these last couple of months to plenty of athletic adventures that made me feel genuinely happy and not just momentarily, but the whole entire day. It was an emotional high and it had nothing to do with chocolate. It was just the rush of being successful and accomplishing something I set out to do.

That pushed the reset button on my life and I decided … yeah I want that feeling. Pictures are great, but I soooooo want to bottle that up and open it and relive those feelings for when one of those crappy days rolls around and slaps me in the face. So I continued my athletic adventures. I’ve enrolled in a beginners roller derby class and registered for an urban climbing race, which also benefits the American Lung Association. I’m on a mission to do an athletic adventure at least once month and maybe I won’t need that special bottle.

I continue to write as that is one of my biggest passions and I get a great sense of satisfaction every night when hit that “publish” button on my blog. I feel like I did something. Just the other day I reached the 400-posts mark and it felt good to reach that number. I didn’t tell anyone, but I didn’t need to in order to feel fantastic, the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream which involved chocolate was reward enough. Plus I’ve got to admit, I patted myself on the back and gave myself a gold star.

Movies and television I am so on top of that. In fact I may be too on top of that. Some people say it’s not that great to watch a lot of television or movies, but I say why not? Television and movies are awesome. Sometimes they provide escape, comic relief, or inspiration and I’m always for that.

But this chapter inferred I pursue something new, or something I hadn’t done yet.

“What you choose to do on a free Saturday afternoon is an indication of your passion.”

Normally the answer to that involves, sports, working out, television or movies. But there were two things that came to mind. Food and travel. I’m all about food. I love it. I enjoy it. I look forward to it. I savor every bite. Sometimes I even dream about it. And the calories? C’mon now. It’s me The Guat. Calories don’t matter, I just walk it off or buy bigger pants. And travel? If I had any money I would being traveling places at least once a month, but since I’m a poor writer all I do is travel to the supermarket with coupons and dream while I’m in line. But I could make travel possible, even if it’s just for a weekend.

So there it was, I found my answers. But in order for the chapter to work, I’d have to choose just one and seeing how I’m financially challenged, food would probably be the better choice. And what an awesome second choice, right? Who doesn’t love food? And I could probably travel to places through food, right?

So in addition to my other projects I’ve decided to pursue food. Eating it mostly, but cooking it of course. I’ve decided to try a new recipe once a week. I’m really not one for following cookbook recipes since I’m a big Food Network fan, but I’ll take the recipes from wherever I can find them. Julia Childs cookbook, Authentic Guat recipes cookbooks, Tyler Florence, Bobby Flay, Emeril, Paula Dean, or any of the cooks featured on the network. But I’m not going to fool myself into getting a Rachel Ray recipe and thinking I can do it in thirty minutes. Because I’ve learned the hard way. That chick is lying. It takes at least an hour.

But no matter how long it takes I’ll finish. Whether it’s baking or sautéing, I’m on a new adventure. It’s culinary and it will probably involve chocolate. Oooooh. Maybe in every dish. Stay tuned because the Food Network Adventure begins.

This Meal Went Beyond Paper Plates … It Deserved Barcelona

25 Mar

With so many mouths to feed and the massive amounts of Dawn and Palmolive destroying my youthful hands, I gravitated toward using paper plates.

Lazy?

Perhaps.

But after washing breakfast plates, pots and pans; followed by lunch plates, pots and pans; then dinner plates pots and pans, I’ve decided to take short cuts and help myself out a little bit. I didn’t even mention the bottles…don’t get me started on the Dr. Brown baby bottles and their million parts. Dude.

So I’ve become a Dixie chick. Not a country-singing-I’m-Not-Ready-To-Make-Nice Dixie chick, but the paper plate kind. They’re awesome. They save me at least twenty-to-thirty minutes a day. And in Guat time that is really important. But sometimes a meal comes along where I have to use the Barcelona Dinnerware. It’s just that good.

Tonight happen to be one of those nights. I actually took the night off from eating yesterday because of my incident on Friday night. But I felt better today and made my comeback in the kitchen.

What did I make?

 

Meatloaf Muffins. They’re so awesome I literally patted myself on the back. But these were not just any meatloaf muffins, they were Rachel Ray’s Meatloaf Muffin Recipe.

Now I know I complain about her recipes totally sucking the 30-minute mark. Most of her recipes are all pretty tasty, but there are no 30-minute meals at my house … more like an-hour-and-a-half meals. But regardless of the time on this particular recipe I always thoroughly enjoy a tasty, savory comfy cozy meal that makes me close my eyes when I take the first bite.

Do you know how good food has to be to make me close my eyes and shake my head?

Dude.

My relationship with food goes up several notches with this dish. I don’t care about calories or portion size in general, and this meal… hijole! … just puts me over the edge. Claim-Jumper size portions. It had celery, peppers, onions, Uncle Dougies Barbecue Sauce and Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce. I don’t really impress myself much, but today … dude … I was so money. 

This meal deserved the Barcelona Dinnerware plate. The earthenware with the beautiful glazed finish that makes everything look better. It deserved to be laid out in total awesomeness. No Dixie plates on this one.

As the night came to an end after baths for the kids, stories for my son and bedtime for both of them, I walk down to see a sink full of dishes.

Ugh….

But this time I didn’t mind it too much. It was a well-deserved mess.

 

Apparently, There Was Room for Just One

14 Mar

It stands alone … king of the domain, towering at nine inches tall.  The behemoth. No one messes with this. No one tries to horn in on its territory, unless they want to feel the Wrath of Kahn. It’s a territorial thing, I guess.

I became aware of the King not too long ago, when we tried to replace it … well not even replace it, just add some variety, but we were dismissed with extreme prejudice. When it comes to chicks and their kitchen it’s all about control. Don’t get crazy with the suggestions.

Apparently, Mrs. Dash rules my mother’s pantry. Have you heard of Mrs. Dash? It’s  the only spice, other than salt, that you will ever need on Earth. Not the small four or six-ounce jar either, but the Costco-sized-gargantuan-nuclear-bomb-shelter-21-ounce container. The kind an army cook uses to feed a platoon.

It’s a seasoning blend that provides you with a smorgasbord of spices great for anything and everything that flies, swims, or hangs out on a farm. According to my mom, it’s all you need.

image courtesy of http://www.MrsDash.com

During my temporary stay at my mom’s house, in addition to being the maid, dog walker, laundromat, dishwasher, personal shopper, accountant, and Dona of the house, I’d become the cook as well.

But regardless of my temporary standing as interim chef, every chick or kitchen dude, feels their kitchen is their kitchen, regardless how little they use it. Don’t mess with the Feng Shui of their kitchen. Don’t put the pots in the pan drawer, don’t unplug the blender, don’t move the cans around in the pantry so that they are grouped by size and the labels face you, don’t move the magnets on the fridge, and most importantly don’t rearrange, remove or add to their spices. You will be schooled … I was.

As I prepared arroz con pollo, I looked for some cumin and pepper in the pantry but found the ginormous container with the yellow label staring at me.

You got any cumin?

Mrs. Dash has it.

You got any pepper?

Don’t need it, Mrs. Dash has it.

What about garlic? I didn’t see any cloves or garlic powder?

I’ll tell you in Spanish because you don’t seem to understand … Lo tiene Mrs. Dash.

How are you just going to cook with one spice? What is that?

What about cayenne pepper?

LO TIENE MRS. DASH! Your sister’s husband loved my roasted chicken and steak. All I used was Mrs. Dash. He always said how delicious it was and that he wanted to get the recipe. He likes it.

Calm down. I just like a little variety, some depth … a little less zest.

Apparently it was bad enough that I brought pepper into the house a few weeks prior, I didn’t need to get all “diva” and bring in other additions to the kitchen. They weren’t necessary. This was the most awesome creation ever and I was frowned upon for even thinking to add to the spice rack. There could be only one king of the pantry, but I added the little  four-ounce containers. They made guest appearances.

image courtesy of http://www.pappyschoice.com

 But when my dude brought in a 32 oz container of Pappy’s Choice Professional Pack  Seasoning … you know the one that says, “You’re not happy, until you’ve had Pappy’s.”

Yeah…I’d never heard of it either.

Apparently they were giving samples of its flavorful potential at Costco and he had to have it. So Pappy’s made an attempt to creep into the pantry.

However it was outed.

Ques esto! What is this?

It’s Pappy’s … don’t you know? You’re not happy until you’ve had Pappy’s. It’s got no MSG and you can use it in Bloody Mary’s, too.

I was given the dirty look, followed by the questionable eyebrow raise and the hmph.

No matter how many times we used it and put it in the pantry, it would resurface on the counter, next to the toaster oven. It was given dirty looks, dropped on the floor accidentally on purpose, and segregated from the salt and Mrs. Dash. I thought my dude kept forgetting to put it back in the pantry, but that was not the case.

One morning I put it in the pantry, label facing me, behind the Mrs. Dash of course. Then my mother saw it … it’s presence slapping her in the chef face. She grabbed the container, opened the pouring spout, sniffed it, and then closed it. She placed it behind to the toaster, label facing the wall, away from me.

Apparently there was room for just one.

Crazy moms.