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Posts from — June 2012

Final “Surprise Me Thursday”

Today is the last day of the 2012 Summer Kid’s Cooking Classes – meaning yesterday was the last “Surprise Me Thursday” – which is the day we make cool stuff I found on Pinterest.  How darn cute is this?

Rice Krispies Treats are one of my favorite things in the whole wide world, always have been, always will be. It takes all kinds of stupid willpower to avoid them at the ballpark when those vendors come down the aisles with a tray full of them. I am proud to say that I have never paid for a Rice Krispies Treat at Chase Field. Why pay for such a thing when they are the easiest things on earth to make at home? That being said, somehow I still have to fight the temptation to pay big bucks for one. I can tell you one thing, if they sold Rice Krispies Treats that looks like this, I’d buy one for sure!

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June 29, 2012   5 Comments

minis rock!

Mini Skirts, Mini Coopers, and Mini Food – they’re all awesome.

What is it about taking what is commonly full sized and shrinking it down to mini-sized that makes it even more appealing? Is it just that it is cuter or does it actually make it taste even better?  I’m not certain, but there is most certainly something about it that is so very likeable.

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June 28, 2012   5 Comments

table setting

Every week of summer cooking classes we take time out of the kitchen and gather round the table in the dining room to learn how to set a proper table.

Each student is given a Dinner plate, Salad fork, Meat fork, Dessert fork, Dessert spoon, Meat knife, and Soup spoon, Bread plate, Napkin, and Water glass (actually it holds lemonade each day).  

Sometimes one or two students (usually returning from a couple weeks prior or sometimes as long ago as last summer) get it perfect as show above.

I use this mnemonic to help the kids remember how to set a proper table: The word “Right” has five letters, as do the words “spoon”  “glass” and “knife”. So remember that the spoons, glasses, and knives all go on the right of the plate.

Likewise, the word “Left” has four letters, as does the word “fork”. Therefore forks go on the left of the plate.

To help remember which way the dessert fork and spoon face, just place them on the sides of the plate they naturally go on (spoon with 5 letters on the right and fork with four letters on the left) and slide them from there to up above the plate and they are naturally facing the way they belong.

Finally, if you have trouble remembering which bread plate and which drinking glass are yours at a crowded table, just do this:  Make a lower case “b” with your left hand and a lower case “d” with your right hand.  Hold them up in front of you. Your bread plate “b” is on your left. Your drink “d” is on your right.

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June 27, 2012   8 Comments


For our Meatless Monday classes this summer, one of the favorites has been this salad. An adaptation of the iconic Stetson Chopped Salad from Cowboy Ciao, which has been open on Stetson Drive in Old Town Scottsdale for 15 years.

Traditionally the salad has a row of chopped smoked salmon. We have left it out to make it a vegetarian dish.  If you would like to make it the Cowboy Ciao way, (which is exactly what I would do!!) add in 4-ounces diced smoked salmon as the last row of the salad.

The photo above is the salad at Cowboy Ciao. It is an individual serving, brought to the table with the dressing on two spoons, ready for you to toss in as you like.

This recipe makes enough for 8 and is also brought to the table to have the dressing added at the last minute and then served family style.

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June 26, 2012   7 Comments

good to know

You know how it is when you know something and you just assume others know it too?  Then it dawns on you that maybe not everyone knows what it is that you know.  For instance, did you know that the PLU numbers on produce stickers hold more information than just the price of the item? Important information, that can help you make more informed and conscious buying decisions.

There you have it!  Check it out the next time you go grocery shopping.

I have a “Tip Index” over there on the left, under the “Pages” heading. The first year or two of the blog, I was ultra-diligent about updating the index every time I posted a tip in a recipe. I’ve been way too lax about it recently. So, I thought I’d share with you a couple good Cooking Tip sites. They make for an interesting read and even if you already know 98% of the tips listed, it might be that other 2% that makes cooking a bit easier and more enjoyable.

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June 25, 2012   1 Comment

blog rules?

Good Sunday Morning!  Is this image not one of the most beautiful things you have ever seen? I can not begin to tell you what joy it brings to me. Peace, happiness, calm, just joy! Keep reading to learn where it came from…

Yeah, so guess what I just read on, Heather Bullard – Lifestyle Blog, which by the way, is where the gorgeous image came from and is one of my very favorite blogs in the whole wide world?  This is what I read….

“Posting on a Saturday. I’m sure I’m breaking all kinds of professional blog rules.”

What?!? Posting on Saturdays is against “professional blog rules”?  Man, am I ever in deep trouble. Not only have I posted on a Saturday 135 times, but as of today, I’ve put up a new post 141 times on a Sunday in the nearly three years since I created this space. I’m guessing that if posting on Saturday is against the rules, then posting on Sunday is … well, nothing short of sacrilegious!

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June 24, 2012   3 Comments

red velvet heaven or “SMTh” – Part 4

This post should be called “Surprise Me Thursday – Part 4″ except we didn’t make this dessert on Thursday.  No, we made it to serve 24 at our Teen Week graduation lunch on Friday.  Although, I did find it on Pinterest… and originally I had planned to make it on a Thursday.  Until, one of the students wrote down “Red Velvet Cake” on their menu suggestion card (which I have the teens fill out on Monday mornings), and I thought, “Hey this is the perfect opportunity to make those cute mason jar cakes I see daily all over Pinterest.”  Two birds – One stone.

These are so delightful and oh so delectable, that they are now my “go to” party dessert!

By the way, we made the recipe twice to get 24 jar.  You may double the frosting but don’t try to double the cake portion… instead, make two separate batches.

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June 23, 2012   3 Comments

grandiose French toast

Yesterday I explained how I had an extra angel food cake hanging around after I had made one ahead for class and then had the kids make one too.  The question was, “What does one do with an entire extra angel food cake?”  I took to Pinterest for the answer and found out that one makes Angel Food Cake French Toast.  But of course! The recipe came from Better Homes and Gardens.

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June 21, 2012   3 Comments

angel food cake

I don’t know what my record high is for the number of photos in one post, but this may top them all.  Why would such a sweet, innocent, plain-Jane-looking, and in fact, angelic cake need so many (14) descriptive pictures? Because when we’re talking about angel food cake, we’re talking all about the “Incredible Edible Egg.”

Eggs truly are incredible!  Perfection in a shell.  Magical, if you will.  They are the workhorse of the kitchen, providing the strength to bind ingredients, the power to rise and puff souffles, and the delicacy to act as the wings of an angel food cake. Simple egg whites whipping up into soft, fluffy, light as air, clouds of creamy goodness.

Egg whites are mostly protein and have no fat.  When whipped, they hold air and their volume increases by up to 7 times. When whipping whites, what you are looking for is “peaks”. With soft peaks the bubbles are a little more pronounced, and when you remove the beating whisk, the peaks tip over. Stiff peaks stand up straight when you remove the whisk. Egg whites whipped to this stage are used in meringues and cakes when sugar is added.

Plus, once the sugar is added, you won’t need to worry about over-beating, and the meringue can be whipped almost indefinitely… but only once the sugar is in there, otherwise it is quite easy to over-beat the whites. They will become dry and separate into clumps. Once that happens – they are ruined.

A most important note: Egg whites simply will not whip in the presence of fat. Egg yolks contain all the fat in an egg, so if you drop a little bit of yolk into your whites, carefully remove it by scooping with a bit of egg shell, this works because the shell attracts the yolk (same is true if egg shell gets into your cracked egg -shell also attracts to shell).  If there is more than a drop of yolk in the whites, just toss that egg out and start over.  And always whip with a sparkling clean whisk and bowl.

Ironically, fresh cold eggs are easiest to separate but older room temperature eggs whip quicker and can achieve a bit more volume. Personally, I separate my eggs when they are cold and don’t worry about how fresh they are or even wait for them to come to room temperature, it is what it is!

The reason recipes often call for cream of tartar or lemon juice is because acid makes beaten whites more stable.

And the reason angel food cakes are inverted as they are cooling, is because this cooling method keeps the cake from collapsing or deflating once it is removed from the oven.  (I think my photo of the cake inverted on a wine bottle looks like a table lamp… but maybe that’s just me.)

Hopefully all this is more than you ever wanted or needed to know about the wonderful egg  -  now on to the main attraction – The Cake!

Oh wait, one more thing… real quick… I had to make a cake ahead of time, then the kids made the cake in class.  They frosted my cake and tomorrow I will show you what we did with the cake they made – Oh my word, you will L-O-V-E IT!

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June 20, 2012   6 Comments

options and a glance

This recipe was Connor’s favorite from yesterday’s Meatless Monday menu. I might have to agree – darn tasty!

Speaking of Connor, I asked him to grab my camera so I could take a shot of a couple of the girls frosting a cake. While doing so, before I could stop him, he quickly snapped a picture of me.  It turned out kinda artsy and since it’s just a glance, I decided to share … it is of me in “action” during classes.

These toasts call for hummus.  You have three options here -

  1. “Think and Plan Ahead” and make THIS most excellent hummus
  2. “Quickly Put Together” the easy-breezy hummus recipe below
  3. “Super Easy Approach”  use prepared hummus from the store

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June 19, 2012   3 Comments