Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Woolworth Building- Experimental Cafe

So has been a great New Year's Eve. A friend at work took me to lunch at the Experimental Cafe which is in the restored Woolworth Building in Oxnard. If you are ever in Oxnard, this is a great place for lunch. Otherwise, stay away from Oxnard. I grew up there so I can talk smack, but you can't. LOL. When I was little, Oxnard was tons and tons of fields and miles and miles of beach. Now it's too crowded, full of run-down buildings, strip malls and constructions projects that never seem to be completed. Ok, enough of the rant and on to the food. We started with bruschetta...the bread was warm and toasty, the tomatoes were fresh and the shaving of parmesan cheese oh so yummy. Then I had the roast beef panini and she had the italian panini. The panini was good, although the onions were cut too big. On the side were pita chips and hummus....yum! Dessert....oh my goodness....heavenly coconut cake. I LOVE coconut cake. I will definitely be going again for lunch. Thank you to Teryn for treating me to lunch. If you read this blog, know how much your generosity and kindness are appreciated.

Here is the link for the restaurant should you choose to be brave a visit to Oxnard (AKA the Nard).

Gateau A L'Orange (Orange Spongecake)

I love the scene in the movie Julie & Julia when Julie toast Julia Child and says "Julia Child you are so good" that is how I feel about her too. Everything I have made from Mastering the Art of French Cooking has been fantastic. The recipes are easy to follow and although the ingredients always call for butter, eggs and/or cream... I don't care because it's worth it. The other night I made Gateau A L'Orange (Orange Spongecake) and it was spongy goodness. Having it for dessert the next night, I improvised by sprinkling a little Grand Marnier on top and topping with vanilla ice cream. Yum! The photo is the cake with powdered sugar and whipped cream. Yum again!

Here is the recipe:

Preheat oven to 350 deg.

You will need:
A round cake pan 9 x 1 1/2 inches (I used a springform pan)

2/3 granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
zest of one orange
1/3 C strained orange juice (next time I'll add a little Grand Marnier as well)
pinches of salt
3/4 C cake flour
4 egg whites
1 T granulated sugar

Butter and flour cake pan (I also lined mine with parchment paper on the bottom)

Gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks and continue beating until the mixture thickens to form a ribbon. Add the orange zest, orange juice and a pinch of salt. Beat for a moment or two until mixture is light and foamy. Then beat in the flour.

Beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt together in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed. Sprinkle in the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed. Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the batter, delicately fold in the rest.

Immediately turn into prepared cake pan and run the batter up to the rim all around. Bake in the middle position of a preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. Cake is done when it has puffed, browned and shows a faint line of shrinkage from the edge of the mold.

Chicken-Andouille Casserole

I love any reason to use my Grandma's dutch oven so when I came across this recipe on the Food Network website yesterday I knew it was the perfect meal for a cold rainy night. There are quite a few steps to the recipe, but it's easy and oh so delicious. The photos (sorry they are a little blurry) do not do this recipe justice. I forgot to buy parsley so I added a little extra green onion. I used dried tarragon instead of fresh. I had half&half in the fridge already so I substituted that for the heavy cream. And I used Emeril's Bayou Blast seasoning rather than the Essence of Emeril. This recipe will definitely go in the file to make again in the future. Yum!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Drunken Pasta

The wine...yum!
The pasta...yum!
My kitty...checking out the spot where the big pasta pot sits.
Steven with the leftover pasta.

My friend Steven was visiting from Seattle for Christmas and stopped by for dinner the other night. I had received several bottles of wine as gifts so I thought I'd make a drunken pasta recipe I'd seen on Rachael Ray. It was delicious. I will warn you though....after I brought the wine/water to a boil, as soon as I added the salt it bubbled over and spit foamy wine all over the stovetop and floor. I still don't know what caused it but the dish was worth the clean-up. Here is the link for the recipe

Friday, December 18, 2009

Soupe à L’oignon Gratinée – French Onion Soup

I received Mastering the After of French Cooking as an early Christmas gift and couldn't wait to make my favorite soup- Soupe à L’oignon Gratinée – French Onion Soup
It smelled so wonderful simmering on the stove and Julia Child's recipe did not disappoint. The broth was full of flavor, the onions we tender and the cheese was oh so gooey. I loved every bite and slurp. I hope you have a chance to make it.
Here is the link to the recipe, but in honor of Julia, I recommend you buy her cookbook.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Satay Peanut Sauce

Last night my husband and I had plans to walk thru Candy Cane Lane in our town so dinner needed to be quick. I picked up a jar of Satay Peanut Sauce from Trader Joes which I had never made before. I sauteed some chicken and snap peas then added the sauce to the pan. It was really thick so I thinned it with some chicken stock. I served it with a side of couscous and a plate of oranges. The sauce was a little sweet for my taste and it probably would have been better served as part of a noodle salad, but if you like a sweet tang to your peanut sauce, check it out.
Also, Trader Joes has a great deal on organic oranges right now. They are delicious.
I received my first Christmas gift last night and I'm so excited to be the proud owner of Mastering the Art of French Cooking! I'm sure I'll be posting recipes from it soon. Yay!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Post-Thanksgiving Potluck

Our table of abundance.

Cheesecake brought by our friends from Bristol Farms.

Cookies I made for our friends to take home after the party.

Last night we had our friends over for a Post-Thanksgiving Potluck. It was a great night of food, drinks and games. We had everything you could possibly want to eat, turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, rice, kahlua pork, cranberry sauce, stuffing, cheesecake, cookies, pomegranate fizzes and beer for the boys.
I made my favorite stuffing recipe.

1 box cornbread stuffing cubes (I don't use the seasoning packet)
2 apples, preferably granny smith, peeled, cored and cut into bite-sized cubes
1 medium yellow onion diced
1 package of breakfast chicken sausage from Trader Joes (remove casing)
1/4 C unsalted butter
4 C low-sodium chicken stock
1 t celery seed
salt & pepper to taste
3/4 C toasted pecan pieces (optional)

Brown the sausage, depending on how much fat is rendered you may need to add a little EVOO to the pan before you add the onions and apples. Once sausage is brown, add onions and apples. Cook until soft. Melt butter in pan, then add chicken stock, celery seed, salt & pepper. Bring to a boil, add cornbread cubes and remove from heat. Once stock is absorbed into cornbread cubes, fluff with fork and add pecans. Mix until well combined.

The recipe was a hit, but the star of the night was the kahlua pork brought by our friends. So much yummy food to enjoy and definitely enough food for days of leftovers. Which means I'll have a nice break from the kitchen to get some Christmas chores done.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Every Thursday we get together with some friends at Lupes for cheap but so yummy Mexican food. We all order al a carte to keep the cost down and fill up on many bowls of chips and salsa. The waiters know us and it's become a Thursday tradition. We look forward to it and post on Facebook all day the countdown for Lupes. So last night I decided to be brave and take my camera. It was a little embarassing photographing my food at the table but it was worth it to share a little piece of Lupes with the blogging world.
Do you have a favorite restaurant or a tradition you share with your friends?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Is It Really Better Than Sex Cake?

This cake is easy and oh so delicious. Normally I am not a fan of boxed cake, but this is an exception. My friend received a cake carrier as a wedding gift and I offered to fill it for her since she doesn't bake very often. She had us over for dinner and I brought the cake. The photo isn't great and since I didn't have my camera at her house I don't have a photo of it sliced, but trust me it's worth making. It's pineapply, coconuty and could it really be better than sex? I'll let you try out the recipe and tell me what you think.
I've attached the link below. It's a Paula Deen recipe- queen of butter, sugar and whipped cream.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bluberry Coconut Coffee Cake from "For The Love of Cooking" Blog

Quick post before bed. I made this coffee cake last night and it was delicious. My photos are not nearly as good as the ones on her blog so I'm posting the link.
Note: I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Molasses Spice Cookies

This weekend my nieces were starring in the Nutcracker ballet and my sister in-law invited us to stay at her house for the weekend. As a thank you for her hospitality, I made Molasses Spice Cookies. I make these a few times a year and they are always a huge hit. They don't keep for very long so make sure you freeze them if they won't be eaten within a few days. I'm posting the link for the recipe, since typing all the instructions seems like too daunting a task this evening. Especially since we drove home from San Diego today and just finished putting up our Christmas tree (I'll post a photo of the tree since it's so sparkly and I can't resist sharing).

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tarte D'Champignon (French Style Flat Bread)

Trader Joes is my favorite place to shop for food. I usually shop in the evening and more often than not they have samples of new products to try. The other day I was tempted to try a new flat bread and it was soooo yummy I bought a box to make for dinner that night. We had antipasto salad on the side. I baked it on a pizza stone but I'm sure a cookie sheet will work just as well.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving in AZ

My husband and I drove to Arizona to spend Thanksgiving with my family. Since my grandparents are older and my mom doesn't cook, I was in charge of the feast. The plan was to leave the house at 3am Thanksgiving morning, arrive at 10am, start cooking and be ready to eat by 5pm. Well, all did not go according to plan. Somehow, I managed to go the wrong way and ended up about 50 miles outside of Vegas before I realized my error. The upsetness and frustration I was feeling was definitely not thankful. My husband slept thru this entire incident only for me to wake him up not because we had arrived, but because he needed to navigate me out of the mess. So, a shortcut thru the mountains got us to my grandparents house 3 hours late. In the end, it was fine. My mom has purchased a much smaller turkey than I thought so we still ate at a decent dinner hour. I remain the laughingstock of my family when it comes to driving to AZ since this is the 3rd time I've gone the wrong way.
I made the usual Thanksgiving dishes since my family likes very traditional food and nothing fancy. I must share this cranberry dish with you. It's fantastic. I know Grand Marnier is a little expensive, but I bought a small bottle and it was totally worth it.

Monday, November 23, 2009


We had friends over to play cribbage on Friday night. Yes, it's an old lady game but so much fun. They brought the yummiest pizza from Toppers and I was in charge of drinks and dessert. I made cosmos with Sky Vodka and cupcakes. I used Nigella Lawson's cupcake recipe.
Her recipe says it will make 12 but I always only get 8-10 cupcakes. I topped some of them with gumdrops that I had left from Halloween.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Apple Pie

I was asked to bring dessert to a family get together last weekend and since I'm not supposed to eat chocolate for a while (doctor's orders) I decided on apple pie. It was so yummy I didn't even miss chocolate, although I did miss having coffee with it since it's the caffeine I'm not allowed to have. I've been quite grumpy in the mornings.

Here is the recipe:

2 9-inch pie dough/pastry rounds, I used the frozen kind from Trader's Joes
6-8 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3/4 C sugar
3/4 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t ground nutmeg
2 T cornstarch
2 t lemon juice
1 t lemon zest
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 T cold unsalted butter
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 t water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a 9 inch pie pan with one layer of pastry and brush with egg white. In a large bowl combine apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cornstarch. Allow to stand for 15 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and lemon zest. Arrange apples in pie shell in layers. Create a higher mound in the center. Pour juices from bowl over apples and dot with pieces of butter. Top with a layer of pastry. Seal edges, cut vents in center and brush with egg yolk. Bake for 15 minutes then lower oven temperature to 400 degrees and continue baking until crust is golden brown 35-40 minutes. For a sugared crust, brush pie again with egg yolk 5 minutes before pie is done and sprinkle with sugar.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chicken Soup

My kitty enjoying the fire

One of the best things about cold, fall weather is having a hot bowl of soup by the fire. I don't usually follow a recipe when I'm make soup. I use whatever I have in the fridge. This time I made chicken soup with veggies. Normally once I've browned the onions I deglaze the pan with some white wine but I didn't have any. I decided to try the marsala wine I had leftover from a dish I made a few night was delicious. I love when something works out as you hope it will in a recipe.
Here are the ingredients I used:
Cooked shredded chicken
Chopped Onions browned in olive oil, I add a little minced garlic just before the onions are done
Chopped celery
Peel and diced sweet potatoes and russet potatoes
Bay Leaf
Salt & Pepper to taste
Marsala Wine to deglaze the pan
Chicken Broth
Celery Seed (I love this spice and always put it in my chicken soup)
A little cayenne pepper for heat
Bring to a boil and then simmer until the potatoes are tender. Delicious.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Homemade Life- Molly Wizenberg

I had the day off from work today and spent it doing something I love almost as much as cooking, reading. I wandered thru the library, especially the food aisle, and came across this book, A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. She is the author of the popular blog Orangette. I spent all day, well apart from brief intermissions to run errands, have dinner and make brownies, reading this book. It's cozy, warm and a sincerely written tale of her life and the food she loves.
We all start blogs for various reasons. I'm sure many of us started them after Julie & Julia came out and while some will become hugely popular, most will be a place to share our stories, recipes, thoughts and photos to friends, family and the few anonymous ones who stumble upon it.
I started my blog because I love the sharing of food. Whenever I make something I want to share. I send the portable items to family and friends..cookies, brownies, breads and cakes. Unfortunately, it's not practical to have a dinner party every night when you've worked all day so blogging about it seemed the next best thing. I'll never be a professional chef since I'm too picky an eater and don't fancy the idea of working in a hot secluded kitchen serving food to unknown patrons beyond the double doors. Reading A Homemade Life reaffirmed my feelings that blogging isn't just a place to let your "all about me" shine, but something cathartic like writing in a diary but leaving out the embarrassing details you wouldn't want your mom to find. If you get a chance, check out her book, you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Gratin Dauphinois- scalloped potatoes

These are the most delicious potatoes I have ever made. I found them on a blog and had them as a side dish for chicken marsala, which I'll post the recipe for later. Try these potatoes with your next meal, you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Banana Yogurt Pancakes

I adapted this recipe for pancakes from the Barefoot Contessa using yogurt instead of sour cream. I was craving pancakes this morning and a few days ago I saw a rerun of her show with a segment for these pancakes. I was out of sour cream, but figured yogurt was just a good and would save me a few calories. These pancakes are fantastic. They are lemony, bananay and all things pancakey. I plan to make these for my family the day after Thanksgiving. So yummy.
Here is her recipe, with my substitutions.
Banana Sour Cream (Yogurt) Pancakes
Makes 12 pancakes
1 C all purpose flour
1/2 C whole wheat flour
3 T sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 C low fat plain yogurt
3/4 C + 1T milk (I used non-fat milk with 1 T cream)
2 large eggs
1 t vanilla
1 t grated lemon zest
Unsalted butter
2 bananas diced, plus extra for serving
Pure maple syrup
In a medium bowl, sift together dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together wet ingredients and lemon zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing only until combined.
Melt 1 T butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Ladle approx 1/4 C of batter for each pancake. Distribute approx 1 T diced bananas per pancake. Cook for 2-3 minutes until bubbles appear on top. Flip pancake and cook for another minute until golden brown. Serve with sliced bananas, butter and syrup.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Apple Coffee Cake

I've seen quite a few recipes for Apple Coffee Cake on blogs lately and I really wanted to try one last night. I didn't have all the ingredients so I substituted a few things. The basics for the recipe I found on It's the perfect coffee cake for breakfast or for my husband's late night snack with vanilla ice cream. Here is the recipe with my substitutions:
2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I left a little skin on, my peeling isn't great because I get impatient)
1 lemon
1 C all-purpose flour
3/4 C whole wheat flour
3/4 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t kosher salt
1/2 C unsalted butter softened
1 t vanilla
2 large eggs
1 C lowfat plain yogurt
2/3 C lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 old fashioned oats
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t kosher salt
6 T unsalted butter
1/2 C chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. ggrease a 9-inch springfoam pan. I used my Kitchenaid to combine the streusel ingredients until the butter was the size of peas. Set aside.
Prepare apples and toss with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, mix butter with sugar until well combined. Add eggs one at a time until combined and then add vanilla.
On low speed, alternately add flour mixture and yogurt to butter mixture until combined.
Add half the batter to the pan, sprinkle with half of the streusel then spread the apples on top of streusel. Pour remaining batter over apples, the sprinkle with the rest of the streusel.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of the cake comes out clean. Cool at least 1 hour before removing side of pan.
Enjoy! As you can see from the photos, my kitty (Minute) was very interested in the cake.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chicken Enchiladas

Mexican food is a favorite in our house. Every Thursday we meet friends at our favorite Mexican restaurant Lupes, but since it's only Tuesday I thought I'd make enchiladas to hold us over until then. I roasted the chicken Barefoot Contessa style and then shredded it. Rather than roll each tortilla, I sliced them and layered them casserole style. A layer of tortillas, shredded chicken, cheese, pico de gallo and a little red enchilada sauce (repeat). I used the majority of the sauce and cheese for on top as well as some sliced black olives. I baked it at 375 degrees until the sauce was bubbly and the cheese melted.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Apricot Almond Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of those comfort foods that can really start your morning off right. Something about the creamy hot cereal makes everything seem so cozy. Normally, I put chopped apples or raisins in my oatmeal, but since I had a bag of dried apricots in the pantry I thought I'd try them instead. It turned out really good. I chopped up the apricots, added some toasted almonds and a little vanilla to the oats while they cooked on the stove. I always use old-fashioned oats, not quick cooking for my oatmeal, and either skim or 2% milk. Drizzle a little maple syrup or honey on top and enjoy.

Apple Cider Marinated Pork

I was catching up on Rachael Ray episodes yesterday morning and she had a segment on apple cider recipes. I had a bottle in the fridge so for dinner I marinated some pork chops in apple cider, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. I sauteed them in EVOO for a few minutes on each side, added the marinade and simmered until cooked thru. I served it with a side of mashed potatoes. Delicious.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pumpkin Cheesecake

My very first cheesecake. I decided to try a pumpkin cheesecake since that's my favorite kind from Cheesecake Factory. Have you ever eaten there? It is the best chain restaurant. Everything is so yummy. Unfortunately they recently added a calorie content menu which I'm not thrilled about, but as long as you don't open it you can enjoy being ignorant and order whatever you like. Since, I can't wait for anything, including tasting my food before I share it, I took a little wedge out just too make sure it's edible. Not too big a party faux pas, right? So far, so good, but the crust is a little soggy. I don't think I wrapped the foil tightly enough and some water got into the pan. Here is the link I used for the recipe. The only thing I changed was I baked the cheesecake in a water bath which I heard keeps it from cracking.