Friday, September 30, 2011

Chocolate Eclairs

Éclairs....Mmmmmmm! Éclairs consist of 3 different components: 1)Pâte à Choux (the dough), 2)Pastry Cream and 3)Chocolate Ganache. I had never heard of the term Pâte à Choux until we made eclairs in school. Also known as Éclair paste, it is unique among doughs because it is cooked on the stove top before baking. Pàte à Choux can be used to make Eclairs, Paris Brest, Cream Puffs or Profiteroles. It just depends on how you pipe out the dough.

These take some time to make since there are 3 different recipes that have to be assembled together in the end, but the outcome is very rewarding. These are amazing!!! Even the leftovers from the fridge were great the next day.

I made most of them into eclairs but the ones below are little cream puffs filled with chocolate ice cream!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Incredibly Easy Chicken & Noodles

Today I am going to share my go-to chicken and noodle recipe. I love it because it's super easy. Early in the morning I will start cooking the chicken in the crock pot with the chicken broth. Put it on low for 6 hours. Then I take the chicken out, shred it and add all the other ingredients except the noodles. About 45 minutes before serving time, add the noodles.

These are great served with mashed potatoes and corn. I love mixing my corn into the chicken noodles and mashed potatoes. I have since I was a kid. Doe anyone else do this or am I the only wacko? :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mojo Pork

Check out this amazing pork dish that my friend Catherine made for us a few weeks ago. It tasted like she spent the whole day cooking it because it was so juicy, tender, and full of wonderful flavors! It just so happens to be a crockpot recipe! I love using my crockpot!!! Catherine served this pork with rice, black beans, and fried plantains. Each person sitting around the dining room table that night gave it a two thumbs up!

The secret is in this bottle. It's called Goya Mojo Criollo Marinade. It is full of flavor, takes little effort to use and is perfect for a pork, chicken, or beef.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

BLT - New and Improved

I saw this idea many moons ago and have been wanting to try it out. I had a couple tomatoes from the garden left so I thought now was a great time to make a BLT sandwich. I love bacon! Don't we all? But I hate when my bacon keeps sliding off my sandwich while trying to eat it. I know longer have this problem! Introducing... the bacon weave!!! It's perfect! It fits the entire size of a slice of bread and does not slide off while biting into it. It's just like weaving a basket or making a lattice top pie shell. Give it a try. I promise you're gonna love it!

This is what it looks like after you weave the pieces together:

BLT - New and Improved

Miracle Whip

For each sandwich, take 3 slices of bacon and cut them in half. Place 3 of the cut slices vertical and 3 slices horizontal. Weave them together and then fry! Assemble your BLT and enjoy.

{I cannot remember where in the world I saw this idea. Unfortunately I did not come up with it on my own. I'm sorry for not giving any credit to the person who deserves it...I just can't remember who to give credit to!}

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Culinary School - Weeks 10 and 11

Let me first let out a sigh of relief....Finals are over!!! :)

During Week 10 we focused on plating desserts. We had to pay special attention to the way we presented the desserts we made this week. Flavor, temperature, texture, color, and garnishes were all taken into consideration while we each practiced arranging different desserts on plates. We made Poached Pears with a red wine reduction sauce; Fudge Brownies topped with a square of marshmallow and small serving of Mardarin Sorbet on top, garnished with a dried orange slice; practiced making more Pate a Choux and garnished it with Chocolate Caramel Sauce and some fresh fruit. We also made Raspberry Mousse served in shot glasses and our Banana Pecan ice cream with Tulipe cookies.

On Wednesday and Thursday of this week I had finals! The written exam for my Baking and Pastries Lab was on Wednesday. Thursday I had a 4 hour cooking practical and a 2 hour written exam for my Baking and Pastries Concepts class. I rocked the cooking practical!!! It could not have gone any better. I got 5's (on and 1-5 scale) on most everything I turned in. What a great day!

For the cooking practical we had to make:
1. Sweet Tart Dough baked into little tartlets
2. Pastry Cream
3. Pate a Choux
4. Creme Anglais
5. Caramel Sauce
6. Cinnamon Rolls

We had to plate 3 decorated tartlets and 3 empty shells; 3 cream puffs filled with pastry cream and garnished with caramel sauce and creme anglais and 3 empty cream puffs; as well as 6 cinnamon rolls, 3 glazed and 3 plain. In the prior weeks, I had a tendency to underbake my cream puffs a bit and overbake my mini tart shells, but today was a day of perfection. I couldn't have asked for a better day!

I am excited to have the next week off of classes but pretty bummed that these classes are over. They are by far my favorite so far and I had so much fun making so many amazing desserts! It's also hard to believe that I am half-way done with this program already!

My next three classes are Advanced Cakes and Classical Torts, Chocolate & Confectionary, and Sugar Works. Should be fun!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fresh Pineapple Salsa

Kudos to my sister for making this amazing salsa for us. It was such a great change from ordinary salsa and it tasted wonderful. There was sweetness from the pineapple and a kick at the end from the jalapenos.

Monday, September 19, 2011

No Bake Banana Crunch Bars

I'm a huge fan of breakfast cereals. I can't start my morning off without eating breakfast first. I'll even admit that most of the time, my breakfast consists of a sugary kid's cereal.

I'm also a big fan of Post Banana Nut Crunch. My dad eats a bowl of it every single day and has for the last 10+ years (or however long the cereal has been on the market). I needed to make a dessert to take to the lakehouse one weekend and I knew my Dad was going to be there so I wanted to try this recipe.

It has a great peanut butter taste but I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't taste any banana from the Banana Nut Crunch cereal. Other than that it was very tasty and a good change from the standard peanut butter Rice Krispie treats.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sausage Stuffed Won Tons

Look at these cute little wontons! My sister introduced these to me this summer. You use a mini muffin tin to make them so they are perfect little two-bite appetizers. Or you can serve them as your main entrée. They look scrumptious and taste even better!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Here's a fun ice cream cake made out of ice cream sandwiches! Next time you think about ordering a Dairy Queen ice cream cake DON'T...instead try making one of these. Your friends will be very impressed. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nutty for Acorns

Fall is definitely among us. The temperature is beginning to cool down and the trees in our back yard are already starting to lose their leaves! I'm never ready for summer to come to an end but I do look forward to all the things that fall picking, the leaves turning beautiful colors, pumpkin recipes, and lots more.

I saw these cute acorns in my latest Family Fun magazine and they immediately caught my eye. They were super easy to make and my preschooler got a kick out of them.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Culinary School - Weeks 8 and 9

Another two {fattening} fun weeks were had at culinary school. During week 8 we learned all about custards: stirred custards, starch bound custards and baked custards. We made Crème Caramel, Baked Crème Brulee, Pot de Crème (pronounced poh-de-krem), Vanilla Bavarian Cream, Lady Fingers, Charlotte, Lacey Pecan Cookies, Fruit Coulis, and Contemporary Chocolate Mousse.

At the end of each week, there is always something I feel I must have {need} so I can recreate these wonderful masterpieces at home. This time I rushed home and ordered some ramekins off of Amazon. I can't wait to make some Pot De Creme and Crème Brulee for my hubby!

During week 9 we learned all about frozen desserts. We learned the differences between ice cream, sorbet, sherbet, granita, and gelato. We made Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream, Strawberry Ice Cream, Lemon Sorbet, Tuile Cookies, Chocolate Souffle, Jumbo Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing, and Pizza! This was the first time in my life that I ate ice cream at 8:30 in the morning and did not feel guilty about it! :) It was awesome!!!

I went into our basement this weekend and dusted off my ice cream machine that I haven't used in years. After all that I learned in class last week I was excited to make some homemade ice cream. I decided to start by making strawberry ice cream because it is my hubby and little boy's favorite. Counting all the thumbs in our house, it received 8 thumbs up!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Red Beans & Rice

My family loves rice and beans! Whether it's from a Mexican restaurant, part of a Cuban recipe, or as a side dish at Popeye's! I needed a quick meal to throw together and I've had this recipe on my radar for months. It was perfect. A complete meal in one dish and super easy to throw together.

This was my first time using Zatarains Creole Seasoning. I love the stuff but please notice that the first item on the ingredient list is salt. I didn't realize that when I went a little "shaker happy" while cooking. It turned out a little more salty than I would have liked but next time I'll just remember to not put as much seasoning on it. Great meal overall!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Baby Food Recipes

I've had several requests over the last couple of weeks to share some baby food recipes. Even though my "baby" has outgrown this phase, I would be happy to share some recipes with you! Here are some of my favorites that are great when your baby is just beginning to eat solids.

For babies 6 months and older...

4 c. apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 c. water

In a medium saucepan, over medium-low heat, bring apples and water to a simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until apples are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Transfer apples to blender and puree on high speed until smooth.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I told you all last week how much I love eating Middle Eastern food. It's true! La Sheesh in Ann Arbor is on my Top 5 favorite restaurant list. After eating a huge, delicious meal from there, I always make sure to leave a little room in my stomach for Baklava. You always have room for a little dessert, right? Baklava is a sweet, crunchy pastry with tons of layers and it always leaves your fingers sticky from the sugary, honey sauce that is poured over it after baking. It's the best way to end a meal. So like always, I wanted to learn how to make it on my own!

My best tip for you is not to rush the thawing process of the Fillo dough (like I did)! Allow yourself a day or two to allow it to thaw in your refrigerator. Mine was still partially frozen but I wanted to make Baklava NOW! The Fillo dough is so thin and so delicate that it started breaking apart in the spots where it was still frozen. It still turned out great but it would have been a lot easier to work with if I had allowed it to thaw properly.

Here is a picture to demonstrate how to cut it. Only half of the 9 x 13 inch pan is shown in the picture so there were 16 pieces in all.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been eyeballing this recipe over at Picky Palate for about a month now. My heart kept saying, "Make them! Make them! Make them!" But my bathroom scale kept screaming, "Don't you dare do it!"

OH! I DID IT ALRIGHT! You can't tell from the picture but these cookies are gigantic! About three times the size of a normal chocolate chip cookie. But I'm so glad I tried them out. They were pretty darn good and everyone was excited to see the surprise Oreo inside. They are definitely a cookie that you should share with someone else. That is unless you're up for the challenge. Man versus Gigantic Cookie! Yum!!! The original recipe and article can be found over on Picky Palate's blog. Check it out.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Freezer Berry Jam

My in-laws and I took the kids raspberry and blackberry picking at Makielski's Berry Farm. There is nothing better than fresh picked berries! They are a lot sweeter than the average berry you find at the grocery store. We ended up bringing home 2 gorgeous pints of raspberries and 2 pints of blackberries. We made a big dent in my strawberry freezer jam this summer so I thought what's better than to make than some Raspberry Freezer Jam. Yum!!! It will provide lots of sweetness to our family all winter long.