Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Foooooodie Fall

I never really embraced the flavors of fall as much as I have this fall. It's safe to say I've gotten a head start on my winter coat since stuffing my face with every comfort food imaginable. This past weekend I was in a cooking frenzy (unfortunately for Rob, he was cooped up in the kitchen the whole weekend). Try these recipes stat and you'll be ready to catapult yourself into a pile of leaves!

White Bean Chicken Chili

Want an alternative to the red stuff? Try this for a healthier alternative made with chicken but still packed with flava flav and creamy goodness! It's super easy and comes together in a snap!

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 in cubes
1 medium vidalia onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cans (15.5 oz) great northern beans, rinse and drain
1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth or stock (I like to use the carton b/c you can stick the unused in the fridge and it has less sodium)
2 can (4 oz) chopped green chilies
1 teaspoon salt (kosher, not the iodized stuff)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (can use fat-free half & half)
Monterrey or Pepper Jack cheese to top

In a large skillet, saute chicken, onion, and garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink. If using cooked chicken, saute onions and garlic powder until onions are almost transparent, then toss in the chicken to warm it. Add the beans, broth, chilies, and seasonings and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer on LOW, uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream and heavy cream and and return to low heat until warm.

Top with Monterrey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese...yum!

Butternut and Acorn Squash Soup

This soup is hearty, healthy, and delicious. A fall staple soup indeed...
From one of my favorite blogs, Recipe courtesy of

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes (seeds scooped out & saved)
1 acorn squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes3
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed w/ back of knife
4 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, pull leaves off woody stalk
salt and pepper

sour cream
sauteed thick cut bacon, sliced thin
butternut squash seeds, sauteed in bacon fat

In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the cubed squashed and saute for 2-3 minutes or until they start to slightly carmerlize. Add the garlic and saute one minute, stirring often to prevent it from burning (or it will become bitter). Add the chicken stock and thyme and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook, covered for about 3o minutes or until the squash is tender. With an immersion blender*, puree the soup in the pot until smooth. If using a food processor or blender, let the soup cool a bit before processing. Salt and pepper to taste and garnish with a dollop of sour cream, sauteed squash seeds, and bacon. HEAVEN!

*MY NEW FAVORITE TOY! They're super inexpensive and totally worth every penny. I picked one up for about $25. Whether you want to puree your soup directly in the pot or whip up a smoothie in an actual cup, this kitchen gadget is for you!


So it was too soon for me to go on a blog hiatus, right? Let's be honest, the only person that even noticed I was being a lazy blogger was my mom, but hey, if you missed me, I'm back!

I have to share with you all a new, maybe unhealthy, obsession of mine: FOOD BLOGS. I know I have one of my own but it pales in comparison to the amazing-ness of what else is out there. Whether it be chefs, stay-at-home mamas, or regular old joes, these things are everywhere. Not only do they feature delectable, unique recipes, these foodies take unreal pictures (with super $$$ cameras, mind you). I never realized food was so photogenic! Take a gander for yourself and check out my top 5 favorite food blogs:

1. Smitten Kitchen

2. One Hungry Chef

3. Phoo-d

4. Tartelette

5. Joy the Baker

Not only are they pretty to look at but now you can give a rest and get some wicked new recipes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Deep Breaths...


I am still shaking. I cannot believe what just unfolded tonight. I didn't do good friends....I DID GREAT!

So here's how it went down. Seven sauces, 10 points each. I made them in 2 hours but I was one of the first people finished, believe it or not. I showed up an hour early to chop and prepare all my ingredients before the start of class because this way, you're ready to go when the teacher says GO! Sounds pretty intense but this is what he recommends and it definitely took a lot of weight off my shoulders. Okay, can I brag about my scores a little?

1. Espagnole: 10 pts
2. Veloute: 9 pts
3. Bechamel: 9 pts
4. Beurre Blanc: 10 pts
5. Hollandaise: 10 pts
6. Allemande: 9 pts
7. Chasseur: 10 pts

TOTAL: 67/70 pts

I started off with 2 9's and was more than satisfied and surprised how well I started off. Then I got a 10, and then another 10, and another one...and you got the idea. Excuse me for bragging but I really don't know how I pulled it off...but I did! All I have to say is...


Monday, October 5, 2009


Man your battle stations, it's time for the main event!

Hopefully after tomorrow I will no longer have to whine about all my catastrophes and mishaps with sauces. I feel like we've been making sauces for months and I'm ready just to move on already! Yeesh...give me some meat, fish, vegetables, ANYTHING but freaking Veloute, Espagnole, or Hollandaise!

Tomorrow night we're getting tested on 7 sauces, you heard right...SEVEN! I know, I'm having trouble breathing too but I can do it, right? The chef tells us organization is key but you can only prepare so much in advance for a practical. Here's the plan and the order we have to do it:

1. Espagnole
2. Veloute
3. Bechamel
4. Hollandaise
5. Beurre Blanc
6. Allemande
7. Chasseur

Say a little prayer for me because I'm going to need all the help I can get! Although, I do have to toot my own horn because I've been rocking in the sauce department lately!

Game face is goes nothing!

* Picture courtesy my nephew Mason when he was a baby...killer game face, huh?

Friday, October 2, 2009

It's 5 o'clock Somewhere


Who doesn't love it? Well, there's a select few but there's clearly something not quite right with them. How can you resist the first ice cold, frosty sip of a beer...? There's nothing like it. I'm getting the chills just thinking about it. Whether you're rooting on your favorite team or kicking back on the beach, beer is where it's at. Period.

I've been trying to experiment a little more with my beer pallet instead of always resorting to the basics, but guilty as charged, I ordered a Bud Light at a brewery (I know...bad.)

So next time your instinct is to order one of your good pal's Miller or Bud, make a new friend with someone new! Case and point, I was highly opposed to dark beer before I went to Dublin. But after I tried the malty, dark, exotic, fresh Guinness at the Guinness Brewery, it was love at first sip.

My advice to you: this weekend get crazy and try something new. If you can't wait until your tailgate Saturday morning, there's always 5 o'clock...

Want the perfect accompaniment for your beer this weekend? Try these unreal beer pretzels (courtesy Rob's mama!)

Paulette's Party Pretzels
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 packet Ranch dressing dry mix
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper
  • 2 boxes Snyder's sour dough pretzels (the thick kind!)

Mix first three ingredients. Place pretzels in a big ziploc bag and pour in the mixture. Shake the bag to evenly coat the pretzels, pop in the refrigerator, and voile!

Now drink up (responsibly!)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Saucey Night

I have to vent about my "saucey" night last night. I'm in the midst of taking "Culinary Foundations 2" and as you can probably guess, things move a little quicker than "Foundations 1." So, with that said, last night we were expected to make 4 mother sauces (the classic French sauces used to make additional "small sauces") and 5 small sauces.

WELL, the chef made it look pretty darn easy in his demo so I thought it wouldn't be that bad since we've made mother sauces in Foundations 1. I was wrong. My Allemande sauce turned into scrambled eggs. My Supreme cooled down too much before I got to present it to the teacher. My Bechemel only yielded (literally) 4 drops because the chinois (a cone-shaped straining device) I used was so clogged with clunk from previous students. I just had to laugh at this point in my night. Even my Veloute was crappy because I apparently didn't cook the roux long enough. I felt like a complete the time I couldn't get Hollandaise for the life of me!

Phew. Glad that's off my chest. I was pretty relieved when the night came to an end. Usually when I have a crappy night and feel like nothing went my way, it just sticks with me the whole drive home. I'm hoping by next Tuesday, the day of our practical, some magical sauce fairy has sprinkled magical fairy dust on my burnt, non-polished, manly hands (well, these days that's what they're looking like!) so I can whip up something magical.

Or maybe I'll just have to begrudgingly shake my fist at the French for creating so many sauces in the first place.

I'll keep you posted.