Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I made this sandwich about 4 hours ago and my mouth is still burning. I think I must have bought the hottest, spiciest jalapenos in the grocery store. I thought that once you de-seeped jalapenos, they supposedly weren't that hot, but I proved that to be wrong! None-the-less, this grilled cheese was great (if you can handle the heat). What a brilliant idea - the ingredients go together so well.

Word of caution: please wear gloves when deseeding and when removing the roasted skins from the jalapenos! Like I said, I made these hours ago and have washed my hands MANY times with lots of soap since then. But still...when I went to take my contacts out for the evening...I do believe my neighbors could probably hear me screaming because my eyes were on fire!!! Oops...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Chicken and Black Bean Green Enchilada Rice Bake

I loved this recipe! Perhaps it was because it has a lot of my favorites inside like green enchilada sauce, black olives, tomatoes, black beans and cheese! It's easy to throw together and the leftovers are just as good, if not better. We ate this up to the last bite and I'm sure I'll make it again real soon.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Strawberry Bread

While surfing the web to find more strawberry recipes to make, I stumbled across this bread recipe. It sounded good so I tried it! It turned out so yummy! My parents were in town visiting so I was able to serve it for breakfast one morning. Everyone loved it! It makes 2 loaves so we ate one and I put the other in the freezer to enjoy later.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mom's Strawberry Pie

Every summer my mom makes tons of strawberry pies. I believe one year she made close to 100 pies!!! She makes them for friends, neighbors, relatives, people who are under-the-weather...just about anyone. It's her way of telling people she cares about them. If you know my mom, you have surely had the opportunity to try one of her amazing strawberry pies!

My favorite part about these pies are the homemade crusts. They are so flaky and delicious! Much better than store bought crusts and luckily they aren't hard to make either. I made this pie for my hubby to take to work. Everyone there loved it! My preschooler was a bit sad that I shipped this one away without him being able to sample it so I'll soon be making another one. :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Quick & Easy Strawberry-Blueberry Freezer Jam

I had so much fun making strawberry jam that I decided to make another kind this summer - Strawberry BLUEBERRY jam. It turned out just a well as the strawberry batch and so far we've really enjoyed eating it on top of Ritz crackers and with our peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.

While shopping at Meijer, I found that Ball now makes these plastic freezer containers. They come in three different sizes and are perfect for freezing homemade jam. They have locking lids and unlike glass jars, these won't break if little hands get a hold of it and accidentally drop it. I love these and picked up several packages before making my jam.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Quick & Easy Strawberry Freezer Jam

Strawberries are in peak season here in Ann Arbor, Michigan so my preschooler and I headed to a local U-Pick farm to pick some red beauties. There's nothing better than freshly picked strawberries! They are so much sweeter than the ones you find in grocery stores.

We ended up with a HUGE box full of big, juicy, bright red strawberries! They were just dying to be made into something delectable! I am going to call this Strawberry Week on Kathie Cooks so that I can share all the yummy things I made with our strawberry pickings.

The very first thing I made was homemade strawberry jam! My mom used to make homemade jam all the time when I was a kid. We never had to go to the store to buy more jam when ours depleted. We just went to our freezer and grabbed another jar of my momma's homemade jam. It was so good and tasted just perfect on our morning toast.

One thing many people don't realize is that jam is super easy to make. There are even no-cook recipes out there now, which is what I made. You can have a batch of jam made in less than 30 minutes! I ended up making 2 batches. Hopefully that will last us until strawberries are in season again next year.

Friday, June 17, 2011

First Quarter of school is done!

Shew! I had a final yesterday and another one this morning! It's hard to believe but my first quarter of classes are all done! I now have Sanitation & Safety (CULA110) and Introduction to Culinary Skills (CULA105) under my belt. Those 11 weeks just flew by and lots of fun and learning was done along the way!!!

Last week in my cooking lab we ground our own beef to make hamburgers. Each student was to bring in a hamburger recipe, adjust the recipe to make 2 patties, and grill them on the indoor grill. One burger was for me to eat and the other one was for the Chef to sample. At the end of class the Chef was going to tell us (in his opinion) who had the best burger. Guess who won?!?! Me and another girl went home with the best hamburger title! :) It was fun seeing everyone's creations. Some people put pineapple on their burgers, some had mushrooms and swiss cheese, while others had a fried egg on top. I'll remake my hamburgers soon so that I can post the recipe and picture on here soon.

Yesterday I had my final in Sanitation & Safety. It was over fire safety, CPR, and first aid. I still don't know what my grade from that final is but I'm confident that I ended up with a A in the class. This morning I had my cooking final for CULA105. Wow! It was exhausting! We had 3 1/2 hours to make the following recipes and do these knife cuts:

Knife Cuts:
Butcher a whole chicken
1 Carrot - 1/4 inch small dice
1 Onion - 1/4 inch small dice
1 Potato - Batonett (1/4 x 1/4 x 2 inches)
1 Potato - Tourneed
2 Tomatoes - 1/4 inch Concassée
1 Zucchini - 1/4 x 1/4 x 1/4 Brunoise
Parsley Dust

Hollandaise Sauce
Béchamel Sauce
Sautéed Chicken Breast "Chardonnay"
Blanch/shock/sauté Green Beans
Spinach au Gratin
Mashed Potatoes
Coq au Vin

It was non-stop cooking for those 3 1/2 hours straight and I still wasn't able to get it all done! Luckily, the only thing I had left to finish was the Hollandaise Sauce and since I had already started it, I was able to get a few points from it. I scored a 189/210 on the final and ended up with a 98.6% for a final grade. Some may call that an over-acheiver, but I call it having fun and learning a lot along the way! :)

Tomorrow we have to return to class to do a deep-cleaning to the kitchen. Then I am off for a 3 week break!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Trout Meuniere

This will forever be the dish that gave me the severe hot oil burns on my hand. My culinary school battle wounds if you will. This fish was so amazingly good that I was willing to try it once again at home (being much more precautious this time of course)!

This was also the first time that I've gone to a grocery store and ordered fish with its skin and head still attached. Luckily the sales associate was nice enough to chop off the head for me before wrapping it up to take home. Not sure why, but the head and the eyes staring back at me always grosses me out a bit, but I just try not to think about it too much because the end result is flaky, tasty, and oh so good!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Simple White Wine Sangria

I just love summertime. Kids are playing in the back yard. Dinner is being cooked on the grill. The sun is shining and the days are longer. What's not to like?

I have always been a big fan of white wine. Red wine...not so much. This sangria was wonderful! Very fruity, colorful, and perfect for a hot summer evening.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Asian Lettuce Wraps

I haven't been to P.F. Chang's in years but I will never forget how awesome their Chicken Lettuce Wraps are. They were always a must have when my friends and I would go there. When I came across this recipe, wonderful memories came back and my mouth started watering instantly.

They turned out really well and I served them as a main entre for dinner. I can't say that they are quite as good as P.F. Chang's but I'll still give them 2 thumbs up!

Note: The first night we had these I served them on pre-washed, precut green leaf lettuce (as seen in the picture). The second night I used iceberg lettuce (as the recipe calls for). I highly recommend using iceberg lettuce. It makes it taste a lot better and is more crunchy.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Triple-layer Peanut Butter Brownies

So rich and so good. Enough said! :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Overnight Stuffed French Toast

This recipe reminds me of my favorite, most-ordered breakfast from IHOP. Yum!!! Another thing I love about it is that you make it the night before. So you can literally roll out of bed still half asleep and just toss it in the oven...and 30 minutes later breakfast is ready!

It's is a new fave of mine. I will definitely make it again only next time I will make a small change. I have a super sweet tooth but even this was a bit too sweet for me. Next time I'll use half of the cream cheese/sugar mixture to spread on the bread. I believe that would be the perfect amount for the perfect stuffed french toast. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Green Beans

These are the quickest green beans ever! As I was finishing up with the laundry I yelled over to my hubby to see how much longer the steaks on the grill had before they were done. "About 5 minutes and they're done!" I hadn't even started the green beans yet but I can tell you they were done in perfect timing. I had just finished them up when the steaks came off the grill and our entire meal was delicious!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Homemade Scented Playdough

Last Wednesday it rained all day. I seriously don't think it let up once so we needed to find something fun to do inside. Homemade playdough seemed to do the trick! It was super easy to make, smelled so good (we used Grape Kool-Aid), and kept my preschooler busy for a couple hours!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


We learned how to make risotto during pasta/carb week in my cooking class. I had never eaten risotto before until that day. I had no idea what I was missing out on!!! It is so earthy, so flavorful, and so filling! I wanted to rush home and make it for my hubby to try. We served it as a side with grilled steaks and I was stuffed at the end of the meal. It was amazing! It takes a little time to make because you have to constantly watch over the rice and stir it very often for about 30 minutes, but the end result is so worth it!

Quick note: You cannot use just any rice for risotto. It must be Arborio rice which can be found in the rice aisle of most grocery stores. I found it with no problem at my local Meijer.