Saturday, April 30, 2011

Time to Study for Midterms!

This was my favorite week of cooking class so far! We learned about breakfast foods - in particular eggs.

Yesterday we learned the best way to poach an egg. (There will be a separate post with all those details in the near future.) We also shirred (baked) an egg and learned how to make a sunny-side up versus over-medium versus over-hard, etc. We were not allowed to use a spatula like you probably do at home. Oh no....we had to learn how to flip them right in the pan with the motion of your wrist. I was very nervous about my first flip. I was afraid it would either land all over myself, on the ceiling, or all over the floor. I am proud to say that I did not make any messes though! :) With each flip came more confidence and it's really not as hard as it looks. You just have to get the egg really close to the edge of the pan before doing the circular motion with your wrist/hand to flip it over.

We also did a ton of prep work yesterday so that today we could make a HUGE breakfast for all the students and staff. Here's what all we made:

Scrambled Eggs
Rolled Omelets
Hashbrowns - one from baked potatoes, one from raw
Bisquits and Gravy
French Toast
Eggs Benedict w/Hollandaise
Corn Beef Hash
Apple Streusel Muffins and Fruit Salad

It was a very busy class but the chef gave us plenty of time to sit down to eat it all as well. It was great! I left class today feeling like someone needed to roll me out to my car! :)

Not much new to report on my Sanitation and Safety class. I have a lot of studying to do because midterms for that class are next week! Wish me luck!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Crockpot Cranberry Tea

Tea anyone? We had a bunch of out-of-town guests a couple weekends ago. 8 out of the 12 were girls so I thought it was the perfect time to have a tea party! Allie shared this hot "tea" recipe with me about a month ago. It is so easy to throw together and is perfect if you have a little girl wanting to have a Tea Party themed-birthday party.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pasta Fagioli

I decided to make several meals at the beginning of the week so that once my classes hit Thursday-Saturday we would already have some meals in the fridge and not be tempted to get fast food or carryout.

This soup was easy to make and fabulous as well. I loved the Ditalini pasta in it. It makes a huge pot of soup so this will make several meals for us. Hopefully there's only a few more weeks of chilly weather left....I'm getting Spring fever and ready for some warm weather!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

3 Down, 8 To Go!

This week in my cooking class we made soups! Each group was assigned different soups to make and in the end we got to eat them all! I was in charge of making vegetarian Minestrone. There were seven total: Chicken Consomme, Vegetarian Minestrone, French Onion, Cream of Mushroom, Lobster Bisque, Roasted Squash, and Smoked Trout Chowder. I am not a seafood lover so the soups I tried were French Onion, Minestrone, and Cream of Mushroom. I LOVED the cream of mushroom soup! It was so creamy and full of flavor. There were even sauted mushrooms to add to the top as a garnish.

We didn't have to go to school on Friday because it was closed for Good Friday. Here's the funny story of the week... On Saturday I got to class at 6:45am. I felt well rested and was very excited to make soups. I grabbed my bag, my apron, and my chef hat and began to step out of my car. As soon as my feet touched the ground, I began to panic. "Oh crap! I forgot my knife kit!!!!" My knife kit is the size of a small suitcase and has ALL of my tools that I need for class each day. Can't really cook without it!!!! My heart began racing as I proceeded into my classroom to inform the Chef (my teacher). I was pretty sure he was going to send me home since I wasn't prepared. Luckily we had lecture for the first hour and I was able to call my hubby who saved the day. He had to wake the kids up and drag them to my school but I was able to meet them out in the parking lot and get my knife kit right before we started cooking. It was PERFECT timing and my hubby really did save the day!

For my sanitation class homework this week, we had to go to two restaurants and observe. Then we had to write a paper explaining 8 compliances and 8 non-compliances that we had found. I ended up having to go to 3 restaurants because I wasn't able to find any non-compliances at my favorite sushi restaurant (which is a good thing)! I had no problem finding those non-compliances at Subway and Steak-N-Shake though. This class has really opened my eyes and made me a lot more aware/paranoid about going out to eat!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Crispy Bunny Treats


Here's one more quick treat for Easter. These rice krispies are just adorable! They are very popular with the little kids too.

I searched and searched for some hot pink PEEPS bunnies but all I could find were yellow. They would be really cute in all colors!

Have a happy and blessed Easter Day!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Garlic Chicken

I have to admit, I just love making Chinese food. There's a bit of prep work needed up front but the end result is just so delicious! And you can tweak it by adding in your favorite veggies and leaving out any that you don't like. Garlic chicken is another one of my favorites. When my hubby sat down to eat it he said, "Mmmmm!!! How did you learn how to cook this?" My answer? "Your dad of course!" :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Week 2 = Success

Week 2 is over already. The weeks just seem to be flying by now! This week was even more enjoyable than the first. There was a lot of anxiety/stress in the first week, having a new nanny, worrying whether or not she would be late, and how quickly my kids would warm up to her. It's only the 2nd week and I am already getting into a good routine, learning how to manage my time better, and finding good times to get my homework done. My kids love our new nanny so that is a huge relief as well.

This week in my Fundamentals of Classical Tech class we learned about the 5 mother sauces: Bechamel, Espagnole, Tomato, Hollandaise, and Veloute. Our class is divided into groups of four and we had the opportunity to make each sauce. I was especially excited to learn how to make Hollandaise. I am so ready to make some eggs benedict now! Yum!!!

On Friday, we made the Bechamel sauce, added shredded cheese to it and made homemade macaroni and cheese. On Saturday, we made pasta and had that with our fresh Tomato sauce. I love being able to eat in class and try all the things we learn how to make!

We also focused on Roux (roo) this week and everyone got to make their own batch cooking it through 3 different stages to see what it's supposed to look like at each stage. We started off with white roux, cooked it longer until it became blonde roux, and even longer until we had a brown roux. Roux is a thickening agent made from clarified butter or some other fat and an equal part by weight of flour.

Each week we are supposed to make a stock. Last week our group made fish stock and this week we made lobster stock. We also had a knife skills assessment. We had 45 minutes to do all of the following: Julienne Carrot, 1/4" Diced Onion, 1/4" Diced Celery, 1/8" x 1/8" x 1/8" Brunoise Summer Squash, Tomato Concasse (peeled, seeded, and diced into 1/4" pieces), Parsley Dust, Minced Garlic, and Potato Batonnette. We have a cooking ruler and are supposed to be very precise when cutting these veggies. Right now it's all about precision and speed will come later with practice. I am proud to say that I did NOT cut myself this week, but some of my other classmates did!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Stuffed Pizza Bites

At first glance, this looks like a recipe I posted last August called Meatball Bubble Biscuits; however this is a new recipe. These stuffed pizza bites are wonderful! My 4 year old had so much fun helping me "stuff" these little bites. He was so proud of himself that as soon as daddy got home from work, he made sure to tell him that HE made dinner tonight!

These little bites are so good! We used mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, and black olives in ours but you can use any of your favorite pizza toppings. Next time I'd like to try ham and pineapple. Yum!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Instant Oatmeal Mix

I've been on this kick lately where I've been trying to eliminate some unnecessary garbage. I guess you could call it trying to "Go Green" or at least an attempt to make a small effort which I've never even tried before. I've made a huge cut in the amount of individual juice boxes I buy. Instead I've started buying frozen juice concentrate and mixing up my own juice. This is also great because I can dilute it with some extra water and it still tastes the same to my preschooler. I've stopped buying individual size jello/pudding cups and make my own in small reusable containers that my boy can still easily grab out of the fridge. This is fun because you can make lots more jello/fruit combinations than what is offered at the grocery store. I've also started buying large containers of applesauce and yogurt and dividing them out myself into small reusable containers. It saves money and also produces less trash.

Here's another way I found to eliminate unnecessary trash. It's a recipe for Instant Oatmeal Mix from a food blog called Real Mom Kitchen. It's great because you can add any dried fruit/nut combination you want and you can also control how much sugar you want to add to it (often times making it healthier than those little pre-made packets that you buy at the store).

Here's a picture of the batch I made using dehydrated apples and walnuts. The container was 3/4 full when I first made it but was getting rather low by the time we got around to taking a picture!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bird's Nests

Easter is less then 2 weeks away! Here is an adorable and fun treat to make for your little ones. These birds' nests would be such a fun dessert to take to your family get-together or for snack time at your child's school.

My son and I had a fun time chowing down on ours. His imagination was running wild as he was eating his chocolate "dinosaur, bird, chicken, and turtle" eggs!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Egg Salad Sandwiches

I have never had an egg salad sandwich in my life. Seriously. Never! My mom made ham salad sandwiches often when we were kids (and they were so good) but egg salad sandwiches were just something she never made nor have I. That is until today. For some reason I've been wanting to try them so I found this recipe on All and tried it out. My preschooler LOVES hard boiled eggs and wanted to help me make this for lunch. He was such a great helper and removed all the shells from the eggs while I mixed the other ingredients together.

I have to be honest and say that I was a bit disappointed. I've never had an egg salad sandwich so I don't have anything to compare this recipe to but I was expecting it to have a stronger mustard taste. It calls for mustard powder but I couldn't taste it at all. Perhaps next time I should use regular yellow mustard...I don't know.

How about you guys? Are there any egg salad sandwich lovers out there? Anyone have a great recipe they can share with me so I can give it a second chance?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

First Week of Classes - Complete!

Well, I made it through my first week of classes! It was fun yet extremely exhausting! It will take me a few weeks to get used to my new schedule. I have a 3-hour lecture class on Thursdays and a 5-hour cooking class on Friday and Saturday mornings.

I'm in a Sanitation & Safety class on Thursdays. We learned about lots of nasty foodborne illnesses like Hepatitis A, Noroviris Gastroenteritis, Bacillus Cereus Gastroenteritis, Listeriosis, Hemorrhagic Colitis, Clostridium Perfringens Gastroenteritis, Botulism, Salmonellosis, Shigellosis, and many other hard-to-pronounce illnesses that I will be quizzed on next week! I have a bad feeling that once I am done with this class I am going to be too paranoid to ever eat out at a restaurant again!

My Fri-Sat class is called Fundamentals of Classical Tech. The first week was a bit intimidating with all the hard-to-pronounce French terms but it was also a lot of fun. I know I am going to learn so many great things that I'll be able to use at home as well. The first day we pulled out our new knives and made mirepoix (MEER-pwah). Mirepoix is simply a combination of onions, carrots, and celery. It is a standard flavoring combination used in sauces, soups, braised dishes, and stews. The following day we made stocks. My group made fish stock while the other groups made vegetable, chicken, and veal stocks. We learned how to pincé (caramelize an item by sautéing; then adding a tomato product to it) and how to make a Sachet Bag and Bouquet Garni to season our stocks with. Towards the end of class we started practicing knife cuts by producing Tomato Concassé, Minced Garlic, Parsley Dust, and Diced Onion. Let me quote something my instructor said, "Everyone will cut themselves, it's just a matter of when." Well, for me is was Week 1 but it was just a minor cut. :)

Next week we are learning about and making the 5 mother sauces!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Chinese Ribs

My hubby's work hosted an International Dinner a couple weekends ago. Each person was to bring a popular dish from the country they are from. After a few days of thinking about this my hubby asked me to make Chinese ribs, another dish that his dad had taught me to make a couple years ago. This is a favorite in our house and goes great with white rice. Often times I will make a big batch of these and put them in the freezer to eat later.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mexican-Style Stuffed Red Peppers

It always feels good to fix a healthy meal for my family. What's even better is when that meal tastes good too! And on top of that - my preschooler ate every bite on his plate! This recipe is a winner all around!

Another added bonus to this recipe is that you will end up with a lot of extra stuffing. Bonus! That means it will make another meal for my family tomorrow. You can use the extra stuffing to make loaded nachos or burritos.

Thanks to my friend, Angie, for sharing this recipe on her blog.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cookie Dough Dip

I have a huge addiction to eating cookie dough...especially chocolate chip cookie dough. So when I saw this recipe on another food blog there was no doubt in my mind that I had to make it!!! There is nothing, I repeat, NOTHING healthy about this recipe but it was so good! I found myself dipping more and more mini nilla wafers in it until I finally just had to push it aside and say enough!

Warning: This dessert is addictive. You may want to invite some friends over to share so you won't eat the whole bowl all by yourself!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chinese Fried Rice

This is a family favorite in our house but it's a hard recipe to share because I really don't have any measurements for you. I will however share the list of ingredients and then you can try your own version of Chinese fried rice at home.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Roast Sticky Chicken - Rotisserie Style

We had a couple friends over the other night and I served this rotisserie style chicken along with some fried rice (recipe to come). It is super simple to make and very impressive once you serve it. Just rub on the seasonings, stuff with an onion, and bake it at a very low heat for 5 hours. It was delicious and the leftovers were just as good the next day! This recipe is definitely a keeper.