Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Classes Start Next Week!

Many of you are aware that I will be going back to school soon....culinary school that is! It is a dream come true for me! I will be going to The Art Institute of Michigan to get a certificate in Professional Baking & Pastries. It is a year long program and it starts next week! Today I attended the 4 hour orientation and am extremely excited to start this new journey.

I plan to share with you my many stories and experiences that are sure to come and hopefully some good recipes that I'll learn along the way.

One of the to-do's for today was to get fitted for my chef's whites. I received 3 uniforms today (aka chef's whites) and am required to wear them to each of my classes. They consist of a jacket, pants, hat, and neckerchief. While trying on the outfit several questions came to mind so I had to do some research once I got home to find the answers.

1. Could these pants be any more unattractive? The pattern on the pants of a chef's uniform is called hounds tooth. It is a tiny black and white square pattern and it is great for hiding stains of any kind.

2. Why is the jacket double-breasted? Am I supposed to button it this way or fold it the other way and use the other row of buttons? The double breasted jacket can be reversed to hide stains. (Oh! That makes complete sense to me now!!!) The jacket itself is made out of a double layer of cotton so it can insulate the chefs' body against the incredible heat from the stove or from the spill or splatters that may occur throughout the day. The cloth covered knotted buttons can handle a lot of washes and the frequent bumps with the hot pots and handles and heavy equipment.

3. What the heck is a neckerchief? In the past, a chef would wear a neckerchief to catch the sweat that would pour off of them in the sweltering kitchens. Today, they are worn for aesthetic reasons. They give a chef uniform a more finished look. (I still have no idea how to properly tie it but hopefully they will teach me that in the first day of class!)

This weekend I have to go shoe shopping for black, non-skid, closed-toe, closed-heel shoes. I'll try to have my hubby take a picture of me in my new chef's whites in the upcoming know, after I learn how to properly wear it! :)

Wish me luck in my first week of classes!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pretzel Dogs

These little guys were awesome!!! I love soft pretzels! Throw in a hotdog and have a meal!

These would make awesome appetizers for a football game or birthday party. But like I said, I served them for dinner one night with some grape tomatoes on the side and my preschooler was super excited. He chose to dip with mustard. I couldn't decide and dipped with ketchup and mustard. My hubby wanted to dip with some melted cheese (which we were out of) so he opted for some dijon mustard! Dip with whatever you like - they are sure to be a big hit!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Honey Graham Crackers

My 11 month old LOVES graham crackers! She will chew on them with her 2 tiny teeth (gum them) until she is covered in a sticky brown coating. A bath is almost always necessary after an afternoon with graham crackers!

The other day a friend's FB status said that she was making her own crackers. It got me to thinking...that sounds like fun! I had never thought about making my own crackers before so I started searching the internet for recipes. There are tons of recipes out there for all kinds of different crackers including graham crackers.

They were surprisingly easy to make! They just take a bit of time to roll and cut. I didn't bake my first batch long enough and they came out a bit soft. I baked the second batch for the entire 15 minutes and they turned out perfect. Nice and crunchy like store-bought graham crackers. Yum!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pepper Steak & Onion

Here's another fabulous recipe that my father-in-law taught me how to cook. I consider myself extremely lucky to have such nice in-laws. I just love when they come to visit us and stay for a couple months at a time. My in-law's used to own their own Chinese restaurant so the last time they were here visiting, my father-in-law offered to teach me anything I wanted to make. This is one of the first dishes he taught me. The hardest part about learning how to cook Chinese food is that they don't use measuring utensils. They just eye-ball everything! I did my best at "guestimating" how much of this and that he would poor into the pot. Use the measurements below as a guideline but let your tastebuds be the true judge. You can always adjust the flavors to fit your style.

Pepper Steak & Onion has always been a favorite of mine. This recipe tastes just as good as what you'd order in a Chinese restaurant!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pumpkin Scones

Scones always make a great breakfast! I haven't baked with pumpkin for a long time so it was nice to grab a can of it out of the pantry and whip these up for breakfast this morning.

The recipe calls for white chocolate chips. Those of you who know me personally, know I'm not a fan of white chocolate. Milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips work just as well in this recipe.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Anti-Ramen Noodle Soup

I made ramen noodles from scratch! Well...I didn't make the noodles from scratch but you know what I mean, I didn't use those little seasoning packets that come with store-bought Ramen noodles. And they turned out really good! Do you want to know what the secret ingredient is? Ketchup! Weird I know, but oh so good. I found this recipe on a food blog called A Cozy Kitchen.

Ryan and I have this thing about putting a fried egg on top of our Ramen noodles. Oh yeah! It made the noodles even that much better! Give it a try!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mexican Yuk

The name of this recipe cracks me up every time I say it but none-the-less this is a fabulous recipe that my Mom would make for us kids all the time. I love making it for my family now that I'm grown up and have my own kids. I talked to my Mom on the phone tonight and discovered that she make Mexican Yuk tonight too. What a coincidence!

I did not go shy on the mozzarella cheese which made it even that much better. (That's what I get for buying a 5-pound bag of cheese at Sam's Club! :) I served it with Spanish rice.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake

A couple summers ago, while living in New Jersey, we had the opportunity to meet some of my Indiana cousins for dinner in New York City. They had seen a show on The Food Network that ranted and raved about a restaurant called The Stand. They were known for their burgers and milkshakes.

A majority of us decided to try their Toasted Marshmallow milkshake. Oh my!!! It was DE-LISH!!!! It tasted just like a marshmallow toasted over the campfire! A couple days after that trip to NYC, I googled "Toasted Marshmallow milkshake" because I needed another one without having to drive all the way to NYC! I came across this recipe that came from one of Bobby Flay's cookbooks called Bobby Flay's Burgers, Fries & Shakes. It tastes very similar to the shake I drank at The Stand and is very easy to make at home.

I made these delicious shakes for our friends the night before we ran our Shamrocks & Shenanigans 5K. They were a huge hit.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

OH.SO.GOOD!!!!! This picture is worth a thousand words. These cupcakes rocked! I just love Boston Cream Pie so when I saw these adorable little cupcakes on the internet, I added them to my To-Do list for the week. These cupcakes were very impressive looking and did not disappoint. They were so good!

So why do they call it Boston Cream Pie when it's actually a cake?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Italian Soda

My hubby has been on a club soda kick lately. I personally can't stand drinking the stuff by itself. To me it tastes like a Coke without any flavor...yuck! Add some Italian syrup and half & half to it...well then you have a different story. These were quite tasty! We bought a raspberry syrup to try this first time. Next time I'd like to try vanilla, peach, or even strawberry!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Oyster Crackers

As I was going up and down the grocery store aisles this afternoon, making sure to get everything on my list, I randomly glanced over and saw bags of oyster crackers on the shelf. That quick glance brought back some memories of eating seasoned oyster crackers as a kid. So I threw a bag in my cart (I am very bad about impulsive grocery buying :) and went home to look up the recipe. This was the first time I've ever made these crackers but I assumed I probably already had all the ingredients at home. Sure enough, I did and I was able to make them in about 20 minutes. They are a great snack and even my 10 month old loves to munch on them!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pineapple Chicken Burritos

I spotted this recipe on a food blog that I really like called Real Mom Kitchen. We love eating Mexican food and I knew I wanted to try this recipe. It turned out really good! Even my 4 year-old devoured his burrito! I love the rice and beans in this recipe. I couldn't really taste the pineapple much but it helped to make the burritos really moist. What a great dinner! It made a lot so we are going to eat leftovers tomorrow night.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fruit Granola Bars

This recipe came from my cousin's wife. For my bridal shower (more than 6 years ago) everyone was to bring a recipe card with one of their favorite recipes written on it. (This is such a great idea if you know of anyone getting married any time soon!) I loved reading through everyone's recipes and trying them out...knowing that they picked this one out just for me.

These granola bars are delicious! I've made them several times usually either with raspberry or blueberry fruit spread. They are great for breakfast, for dessert, or for an afternoon snack.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tortellini Soup

I loved this soup! LOVED, LOVED, LOVED!!!! Have I told you how much I liked this soup?!?!

This soup was not only delicious but it was also extremely easy to throw together! I used cheese tortellini in my soup (just because I love cheese tortellini)! I even make my pasta salads with cheese tortelli!

This was a big hit with my family even though the first thing that came out of my husband's mouth was, "There's no meat." For those of you that know him personally this will not surprise you. He has to have meat with each and every meal. :) After he walked to the fridge and got some deli ham to satisfy his meat quota for the evening, he told me that he really liked the soup as well. I was very excited to eat the leftovers for lunch the following day just because I liked it that much!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Panko Mozzarella Sticks

Yum!!! Is there anyone that doesn't like deep fried, stringy, gooey, mozzarella sticks? I didn't think so!

Three months ago, I didn't even know what Panko bread crumbs were. Now I think I've used them 3 times in the last month alone. What a great discovery!

These little guys were really good. They would make a great appetizer at a party but I served them along with the Easy Cheesesteaks the other night.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Quick and Easy Cheesesteak

The kids wore me out today and I needed a quick, easy dinner to throw together. This recipe caught my eye and I've been wanting to make it for awhile.

It was good and very easy to make however there was just something keeping me from giving it 2 thumbs up. Maybe I'm turning into a food snob and was comparing it to the "real" cheesesteaks that we ate while living on the East Coast. :)