Sunday, November 25, 2012

We've enough and then some!

Welcome to the wonderful holiday season!  

The season many of us think of as a season of family, friends, food and gratitude.  We have just passed Thanksgiving, which is my absolute favorite holiday because family hangs out together without all the pressure of gifts.  I do like giving gifts, I just don't like so much focus on the gift giving.  As I sit here, my youngest daughter cuddling on one side, my oldest daughter and husband on the couch chatting across the room, I am profoundly thankful for the gifts I've already received this year. 

I am trying to raise grateful children,

 children who understand we have all that we need and are incredibly blessed.  Many in our community certainly have more than we do but certainly many have less as well. 

So, I want to be honest with all of you. 

 I am overwhelmed by the amount of hording that is going on in our country right now.  Of course there is Black Friday for those seeking great sales, and it would probably be fun to get those deals if it weren't for dealing with rude and aggressive individuals when we are supposed to be getting into the "giving" spirit.  A time when we place material goods above the value of people in a highly advertised and visible way.  I personally do not participate in that shopping adventure, but my husband has, and we have indeed gotten some cheap socks!  On TV  is a show that glorifies those people who cut thousands of coupons and save thousands of dollars on gigantic shopping sprees and I just don't understand it.  I understand a desire to save money especially when you are a one income family as my family currently is.  What I don't understand is why the people must buy so many items of one product simply to put this stuff on a shelf.  One person said they had enough cake mixes to make a cake a day for the next 5 years or something like that.  I ask, why?  Why does one family need that kind of quantity?  On my professional blog, I'll be speaking about living in scarcity or abundance, but here on my fun food blog, I want to suggest that these people go ahead and share some of this.  Take half of what you've accumulated to a food bank or homeless shelter.  How long would it take for your family to use 1500 rolls of toilet paper or 100 tubs of hand soap?  Maybe there is a rule I do not understand about coupons, like you can not just get 2 or 3 cans of soup with this coupon but you must get 4 cases. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Soup it up!!

Today turned out to be a fairly chilly day.  The sun was out which made it gorgeous after several days of gray rain, however, no clouds = colder.  Perfect day to make some soup!  I am lucky to have married my husband, who is Filipino-American, because I've learned about some great food I don't think I'd have run into without him!  Tonight, instead of the standard chicken noodle soup, I'm making Arros Caldo. This is a yummy savory soup that is very easy to make and is very versatile in that you can add more or less rice to make it thicker and heartier and you can also easily increase the servings.  I do not recommend freezing it with the rice in the soup. 

Arros Caldo: Chicken and Rice

1 large yellow onion, small dice
1TB oil
4 cloves garlic: finely minced
1 small-medium knuckle of ginger (slice into pieces.  The smaller the the pieces the stronger the flavor of ginger. )
6-8 Chicken pieces, whichever you'd like, I prefer dark meat, but breast works well (just don't over cook and dry it out!)
2 boxes chicken stock (can use water adjust the seasoning)
Fish Sauce (Patis)
1.5-2 C Cooked Rice
Green Onions (garnish)

In a large pot, put some oil into the pot, heat it.  Put onion in, brown the onion, turn down the heat, add garlic/ginger.  Salt and pepper the onion/garlic/ginger.  Cook for 2 minutes, careful not to burn the garlic. 
Add the chicken pieces, mix together.  Salt and pepper the chicken pieces.  Cook the chicken with the onion/garlic for 5 minutes.  Pour 2 boxes of stock or water.  Enough to cover the chicken, (I tend to add a good amount of broth), 2 TB fish sauce (or more to taste) and pepper.
Let simmer. Till Chicken is done.
Meanwhile cook your rice.
add 1.5-2 C. cooked rice to the pot, let simmer 20 minutes. (the more rice you add the thicker the soup)
Garnish with chopped green onions , serve hot.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pizza night but you don't want to go out??

Do you have trouble making a good pizza at home? 

 It has taken me some time to find the right crust, the right sauce, the right ratio of toppings...who knew it could be so difficult.  I think I've figured it out though.  Some nights I really want pizza but I don't want to go out or eat a frozen pizza...
I also prefer to only use mozzarella cheese with some Parmesan cheese grated...






Dough: (enough for two "medium" size pizzas)

1 1/2 C. warm tap water
1 pkg dry yeast
1 tsp white sugar
4c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt 
2 TB olive oil 

Put the yeast, sugar and warm water together in a large bowl. 
Let the yeast begin to bubble, you do not have to wait for a complete bloom of the yeast, just let it get started. 
mix in flour (2 cups then 1/2 c at a time) salt, oil.
Knead until a nice ball of dough forms, slightly sticky is okay.
put in oiled bowl, let sit, covered in warm place until double, about 1 hour. 
Punch down, cut in half. 
Roll half on a well floured board to thinness you desire and into appropriate shape. 
I personally do not spend too much time making sure the dough is exactly shaped unless I'm using my deeper dish round pan.  The picture above is rustic, just rolled to a thickness we like. 

Red Sauce: 

1 15oz crushed tomatoes (if you only have diced, stewed or whole tomatoes no worries, just run through a blender before or after cooking)
1 clove garlic (or to taste)
1 small bay leaf
1/4 tsp Red Pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/4 tsp white sugar
1 tsp combined: oregano, basil, or use Italian seasoning
salt/pepper to taste
Heat to boil, turn down but let it remain bubbly so it will reduce.

Regarding toppings: just remember that when you use fruits/vegetables that have a lot of moisture, your cooking time will vary.  
450 degrees, on the rack at the lowest position in your oven. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Left over candy bar cake!

Are you like me and want to quickly eliminate the amount of Halloween candy inside the house?  
 My neighborhood is awesome in that many participate in the Halloween adventure, but that means LOTS of candy!  The general division of labor at our house is me staying home, standing on the porch, handing out candy and my husband takes the girls around the neighborhood. 
The kids get a ton (my husband brings a back pack so the girls can dump their bags and go for more! Seriously??)  of candy, including full size candy bars (really?? ) and it just gets to be too much!  Yes, I send candy to the office and yes I freeze some, we have many organizations in town willing to collect the candy to send to the troops and other activities…but I want to make a wonderful cake that highlights the fabulousness of the candy bar!  Several years ago I found this cake idea in a Magazine (I think Better Homes and Gardens) and have seen many many variations since!

I generally do not have a white cake mix as I find it just as easy to mix one up but if you have a mix use it!  AND if you want to use chocolate, go for it because that is fantastic too…I can always go with chocolate but not everyone in my household loves it quite as much as I do…(crazy , right??)
I've also added another recipe link at the bottom for another idea!

Vanilla Cake:

1 9x13 (but feel free to make it into cupcakes or a round!)                                                                                                   
2 cups granular sugar                                                     1.5 tsp Vanilla
½ C. shortening                                                               ½ C. Buttermilk
3 egg YOLKS                                                                  1 tsp baking soda
1 Egg                                                                               1 tsp baking powder      
½ tsp Salt
2 C. Flour                                                                         1 c. BOILING water

Heat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)
 Mix together the buttermilk with the baking soda. Set aside.
·        Cream shortening, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat well.
Add buttermilk and baking soda mixture.
Sift dry ingredients, and add to creamed mixture.
Add boiling water, and mix well. 
 Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
After the cake cools:

Frost with Vanilla Butter cream Frosting. 

1 Egg White                                        ¾ C Milk
1 C. white sugar                                  1 C. Butter, Softened
1 tsp Vanilla
Heat milk to boiling, and then let cool. In a large bowl, beat egg white until stiff. Add sugar, butter, and vanilla. Mix with mixer till well blended. Add cooled milk, then beat until nice and creamy. Will take about 15 to 20 minutes of beating after adding the milk. Use to frost any kind of cake. Best if kept refrigerated after frosting cake.


Then (Finally ) Top with a mix of your favorite chopped candy bars! Just get several candy bars of your choice, chop into bite size pieces.  Put on the top of the cake.  

Another Idea: 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Quick Baked Potato Wedges

If you are like me and love baked potatoes but rarely have time to bake them in the oven...where they can get a delightfully crispy crust with a fluffy may like this idea.

Make baked potato wedges. 

3 Medium Baker style potatoes
2 TB Olive Oil
Salt/pepper to taste (other spices/herbs are great too, knock yourself out.  I like: chili powder, garlic powder and paprika in addition to salt/pepper)

Whatever you choose to eat on a baked potato
sour cream
green onion

Heat oven to 450

Simply quarter bakers, skins on, place on greased or non-stick baking sheet,
Sprinkle herbs/spices, salt/pepper
mix them around till all covered as evenly as possible. 
Bake for about 30 minutes (depending on thickness.)  
When they are crispy outside, yet tender inside when pricked with a fork they are done! Eat  Up!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Halloween 2011...Mummy on Grandpa's shoulder!
I love Halloween.  I like seeing the little kids all dressed up and having a chance to dress up myself, though I rarely do.  My neighborhood has so many children, we see about 300-350 kids at my door depending on weather.  The streets are full of ghouls, goblins, ghosts and fairies pulling adults from door to door.  My husband embraces the scarier parts of the holiday and so our house is decorated with Mummies, skeletons, vampires...caldrons boiling with steam...sometimes I walk down to the street to give candy to small children afraid to come to the door.  

Today I have baked a pumpkin bar that is simple and delicious.  We've loaded teachers with sweets, my husband's co-workers...and tonight, before they go out begging for candy we will have brains and eyeballs for dinner...other times of the year it is just spaghetti and meatballs!

I put food color in the water I boil the noodles in so they turn green, but spinach noodles are also a good choice... :)

Simply Delicious Pumpkin Bars: 
1 15oz can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 box of Spice cake mix

Mix together the pumpkin and cake mix.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 min.  

I frost once cooled with cream cheese frosting.

Eat well and Be Well friends!

Chef Dawn

My Daughters and me!
Hello!  I am restarting this blog so that we can move together through my foodie adventures.  For over 20 years I have been working as a Training and Development specialist, manager and consultant...ya, rising through the ranks I've had several titles.  I have my own consulting company where I work with small business owners to develop referral business plans in addition to large companies on various org development issues.  I love this work, however, food is something I've always been interested in.

I started cooking when I was about six years old.  I'd just read the back of a box or container and make the recipe.  Sometimes I'd have great success and other times...ugh...not so much :)  but I learned something every time.  Like for instance, there is a difference between Baking Soda and Powder...significant difference actually ;)

As I got my own home with my husband and family I've enjoyed cooking more and more.  I enjoy sharing my creations with others and I often do.  My neighbors are always happy when I get into the baking because we can't possibly eat all that I make so I send my kids out to deliver goodies.

In March 2012 I was laid off from my job and since consulting contracts are slow in coming I've started a personal chefing business.  My hope is to get families back to the dinner table, to create meals based on a menu for families who are unable to get meals made.  Rather than eating processed foods or fast foods, my clients have real, whole food that taste delicious to put on the table!  I also do some small catering on the side.  Small as in NOT WEDDINGS (unless small intimate gatherings), but YES office parties, meetings and family parties.

I am the wife of 1, the mother of 2 gorgeous girls, 1 mini floppy eared rabbit, and 1 goofy female black lab.  My family is heavily involved in soccer in our community, both girls play, one competitively, I coach and also run the recreational program.  My husband has started a wonderful photography business and is also a computer genius.  There is rarely a dull moment around here and I'm happy to take you along on this crazy adventure many refer to as life!
Twitter: @dawnchef