Thursday, July 22, 2010


I am the cook in my family, but every once in awhile my husband will surprise me.

This is a birthday cake that celebrates my love for whomping ass when I'm playing Tetris.  Thank you, honey!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hummus with Roasted Garlic and Artichoke Hearts

This recipe is a tribute to a recent boozy night with one of my dearest friends from college and our significant others.  Not only did I help drain several bottles of wine, I also decimated a plate of my friend Nichole's hummus.  I hadn't ever had hummus like it and she placed the bowl right in front of me, so yeah - that was pretty much the end of that appetizer.

Here's my adaptation of her recipe ...

Hummus with Roasted Garlic and Artichoke Hearts

2 cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
one head of garlic, roasted **
about 2 T. of lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste

Throw all of these ingredients into a blender or a food processor and blitz until it's as chunky as you'd like it to be or smoother than a baby's bottom.  Serve with veggies or pita chips.

My adaptation for this recipe is to roast the garlic.  Nichole minces up about five cloves of garlic (or as much as you can stand, as she put it) for her hummus.  I'm hoping that as the ingredients meld overnight in the fridge, that the roasted garlic taste is more pronounced.  Right now, it's just really awesomely mellow.

**Roasting garlic?  Here's what I do ... take a head of garlic, slice off the top, wrap in foil and place into a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until you can really smell garlic in your kitchen.  (That's how I figure out when most of my dishes are done ...)  Unwrap the garlic from the foil and let cool.  Then squeeze all the nummy roasted garlic out of the bulb and store in the fridge or use immediately for what you roasted it for.  Or, if all else fails, just spread some of that on a crusty piece of baguette and ward off evil vampires.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Chocolate Cherry Cake

This cake defined my childhood.  I don't know if it's something that my mother made all the time when I was growing up or if it was one of those recipes that she discovered and then became a regular offering in our household.

All I know is that it's very good.  Very, very good.  So good, in fact, that when she made it and if there were ever any leftovers, I'd just cut myself a slice and walk around the kitchen eating it.  Forks?  Nope.  Plate?  Absolutely not necessary.

So when my mother-in-law asked me to bring a dessert for her recent Fourth of July gathering, I thought about bringing something fussy.  There was this raspberry custard pie I was eyeing.  But since my mother couldn't make it to said gathering and I was missing her (she, instead, was laid up with a broken ankle from some Countryfest revelry), I decided to do a nod to my childhood.  And I made this super easy, "I can't believe I'm publishing this" cake.

I love you, mom.  You're just awesome - even if you're kind of accident prone.

Mom's Chocolate Cherry Cake

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 can cherry pie filling
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients together.  Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan.  Bake for 30-45 minutes until done.  Cool.  Top with Cool Whip or a dusting of powdered sugar.  This cake will keep in a covered container for at least five days (if it lasts that long.)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ina's Margaritas

Um ... yeah.  Ina doesn't mess around when it comes to her cocktails.  On Friday, I tried to hastily put together a happy hour with some of my coworkers and although I was sad that it didn't work out, I couldn't be sad for long ... I decided I would go home and make margaritas.  And since I've been trying to avoid high fructose corn syrup, I couldn't just break into the mix that I have lingering in my fridge (which is perfect for Margarita Cupcakes.).

So I went to the Food Network website and put "margarita" in their search engine.  A zillion recipes were spit back at me, but of course my beloved Ina's was one of the unfussiest of the bunch.  (After the week I've had, I don't really want to mess with making simple syrup - hear what I'm sayin'?)  And although you could argue that juicing five limes and a lemon is fussy, I wasn't really fussed.

Ina Garten's Margarita Recipe

  • 1 lime, halved
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (5 limes)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • 1 cup Triple Sec
  • 3 cups ice
  • 1 cup white tequila

If you like margaritas served in a glass with salt, rub the outside rims of six glasses with a cut lime and dip each glass lightly into a plate of kosher salt.  (Yeah - I so skipped that ... I ran the glasses I was using - a Mason jar and a pint glass - under the tap until they were moistened and then I went a little overboard on the salt factor.  But it was sooo worth it!)

Combine the lime juice, lemon juice, Triple Sec, and ice in a blender and puree until completely blended. Add the tequila and puree for 2 seconds more. Serve over ice.  (Another note ... I was so excited about margaritas that I added everything at once and then I blended.  I don't know that it makes a difference.)

If you want the recipe for frozen margaritas, you'll have to go to the website.  I'm all about margaritas on the rocks.

Another note ... I have to be honest, when I first tried this drink I told my husband that it was strong enough to put hair on his chest (to which he answered, "I already have hair on my chest.") .  So I'm warning you - Ina Garten isn't no Sandra Lee with her frou frou cocktails - that lady knows how to mix her margaritas.  I also wondered if I shouldn't cut it with a little simple syrup.  But no - this was one hell of a good drink.

Friday, July 9, 2010


I finally have a source for free range eggs:  My co-worker Greg.  These are his eggs.

In today's delivery, Greg decided it would be awesome if he took a Sharpie and wrote on the eggs.  As his marketing guru, I think it's equal parts frightening (what the hell is that Sharpie ink going to do when I hardboil my morning egg?) and fracking hilarious.  (**UPDATE** According to the henmaster himself, he's using a food-safe ink on his "wise cracks."  EXCELLENT!)

Here's a sampling of Greg's wit and wisdom ... "Liquid Chicken Enclosed"; "Am I in Mazeppa?" (that's where Greg's from - where my precious liquid chickens come from) and other odd little endearing things.  Still not sure where "Trout" comes from.

My favorite egg is the one on the very left.  You can't see the whole message, but here's what it says: "Your frying pan is hot!"

Oh how I love my grEGGs.  We're working on marketing as we speak.  In the meantime, my beloved Rochester peeps - I might be able to score you some eggs - I need to talk to the Henmaster himself though to find out what the production sked is.

P.S. - In case you're wondering why some off the eggs have smeared ink, Greg found out that it's easier to write on an egg when it's warm from the chicken.  Not cold.  Didn't know that until today.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Giada's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Someday I need to do a bake-off of chocolate chip cookies, because by virtue of the man I married, I end up baking a lot of this variety because it's his favorite. 

This is Giada DeLaurentiis' version of chocolate chip goodness. Supposedly, she loves them so much that she baked over 200 of them for her wedding reception.  I cannot attest that they are that good, but you really can't go wrong with butter, sugar, chocolate chip cookies, oats, eggs and flour.

Yes, that's a garden hose you are seeing in the background.  Just focus on the cookie goodness.

One note - I think the next time I make these, that I would up the oats content to 3/4 of a cup or a whole cup.  These aren't the sturdiest cookies that I've ever made and I think additional flour or oats would make these a bit better and reduce them spreading all over the fracking cookie sheet.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Thai Coconut Curry Shrimp

I had never tried Thai food until I was a reporter in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.  There, within walking distance of the newspaper office, was Newey's - an authentic Thai restaurant run by Newey Boonperm, a Thailand native who happened to marry a Wisconsin girl.  I would go into detail about this amazing restaurant, but I'm not going to torment you - Newey's is no longer.  All I know is that a lot of my reporter's salary went towards Newey's pad Thai, his amazing curry dishes and Thai coffee.

So when I was looking for some calorie-friendly Asian-inspired dishes the other day, I didn't even regard my husband's suspicion of seafood when I made this dish from Gina's Weight Watchers Recipes site.  It wasn't as good as Newey's cooking, but it didn't matter - it was Thai-inspired food made in my very own kitchen.  And my husband went for seconds.  I call this a winner.

You can find Gina's recipe here.