Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking

August 20, 2008

Product Rave: McCormick Fish Fry Seafood Fry Mix

Filed under: Uncategorized — Emily @ 2:37 am

This product, by McCormick, is awesome. Aaron and I use it all the time for a quick dinner with either tilapia, or a wonderful fish that we discovered recently, called basa. We pan fry it with a little canola oil and butter. Delicious. I highly recommend checking out this product.


August 19, 2008

The Omnivore’s Hundred

Filed under: Uncategorized — Emily @ 6:16 am

I saw this list on WeezerMonkey’s blog and thought I would see how I did. I am always up for a new food adventure/challenge—especially one that stretches my comfort zone. Whether that means tasting a new food or making a challenging recipe—bring it on!

The Omnivore’s Hundred is a list of 100 food items that British author Andrew Wheeler thinks that every omnivore should try at least once in their life.


  1. Copy this list into your blog, including these instructions.
  2. Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
  3. Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
  1. Venison
    2. Nettle tea
    3. Huevos rancheros
    4. Steak tartare
    5. Crocodile
    6. Black pudding
    7. Cheese fondue
    8. Carp
    9. Borscht
    10. Baba ghanoush
    11. Calamari
    12. Pho
    13. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
    14. Aloo gobi
    15. Hot dog from a street cart
    16. Epoisses
    17. Black truffle
    18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
    19. Steamed pork buns
    20. Pistachio ice cream
    21. Heirloom tomatoes
    22. Fresh wild berries
    23. Foie gras
    24. Rice and beans
    25. Brawn or head cheese
    26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
    27. Dulce de leche
    28. Oysters
    29. Baklava
    30. Bagna cauda
    31. Wasabi peas
    32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
    33. Salted lassi
    34. Sauerkraut
    35. Root beer float
    36. Cognac with a big fat cigar
    37. Clotted cream tea
    38. Vodka jelly
    39. Gumbo
    40. Oxtail
    41. Curried goat
    42. Whole insects
    43. Phaal
    44. Goat’s milk
    45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
    46. Fugu
    47. Chicken tikka masala
    48. Eel
    49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
    50. Sea urchin
    51. Prickly pear
    52. Umeboshi
    53. Abalone
    54. Paneer
    55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
    56. Spaetzle
    57. Dirty gin martini
    58. Beer above 8% ABV
    59. Poutine
    60. Carob chips
    61. S’mores
    62. Sweetbreads
    63. Kaolin
    64. Currywurst
    65. Durian
    66. Frogs’ legs
    67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cakeI’ve had them all!
    68. Haggis
    69. Fried plantain
    70. Chitterlings or andouillette
    71. Gazpacho
    72. Caviar and blini
    73. Louche absinthe
    74. Gjetost or brunost
    75. Roadkill
    76. Baijiu
    77. Hostess Fruit Pie
    78. Snail
    79. Lapsang souchong
    80. Belliniat Harry’s Bar in Venice—one of the originals!
    81. Tom yum
    82. Eggs Benedict
    83. Pocky
    84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
    85. Kobe beef
    86. Hare
    87. Goulash
    88. Flowers
    89. Horse
    90. Criollo chocolate
    91. Spam
    92. Soft shell crab
    93. Rose harissa
    94. Catfish
    95. Mole poblano
    96. Bagel and lox
    97. Lobster Thermidor
    98. Polenta
    99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
    100. Snake

66—not too bad! Hopefully I will ad more while I am here in L.A—city of diversity.

August 15, 2008

A Night at the Hollywood Bowl

Filed under: Uncategorized — Emily @ 8:03 am

Tonight we went to the Hollywood Bowl to see Etta James. I decided to make a picnic to bring along. It was a wonderful evening with our friends Bill and Molly. We even had our own section to ourselves at the top!

On the menu:

Kielbasa appetizer

Panzanella (mixed veggie salad with cubed French bread)

Herb potato salad

Grilled herb shrimp skewers

Raspberry crumble bars

(Sorry the pictures aren’t great, but we were getting hungry and it was getting dark so I couldn’t see the quality very well on my camera screen)

Kielbasa Appetizer:


(can double)

1 lb. kielbasa

1 cup white wine

2 Tbs. brown sugar

1-2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 Tbs. chopped parsley

Cut kielbasa into bite size pieces and place in heavy skillet.

Cover with wine, boil down until syrupy (this takes awhile).

Add sugar and simmer to form slight glaze.

Add mustard and toss with chopped parsley.

Can serve at room temp and with honey mustard (Maile) if desired.

Source: my friend Karen



3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained

For the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Source: Barefoot Contessa

Herb Potato Salad


3 pounds small white boiling potatoes
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons good dry white wine
2 tablespoons chicken stock
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons salt in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the colander with the potatoes over the empty pot off the heat and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Leave the potatoes to steam for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender but firm.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the wine, chicken stock, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, 2 teaspoons salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Set aside.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into quarters or halves, depending on their size. Place the cut potatoes in a large bowl and pour enough dressing over them to moisten. (As the salad sits, you may need to add more dressing.) Add the onion, tarragon and parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Source: Barefoot Contessa

Grilled Herb Shrimp


2 pounds large shrimp (16 to 20 per pound), peeled and deveined (see note)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, small-diced
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 lemon, juiced

Combine all the ingredients and allow them to marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Skewer the shrimp. I use 3 or 4 shrimp on a 12-inch skewer for dinner. Heat a grill with coals and brush the grill with oil to prevent the shrimp from sticking. Grill the shrimp for only 1 1/2 minutes on each side.

Note: I leave the tails on when I’m peeling the shrimp

Source: Barefoot Contessa

(No picture taken–too dark–see previous entry with the same recipe under “desserts” tag)

Raspberry Crumble Bars


6 oz. room temperature butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 3/4 cup flour

1/3 cup pecans (or walnuts), finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract

pinch salt

1 cup raspberry preserves (my favorite is Bonne Maman–with the checkered lid)

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

With an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the brown sugar and beat until light. Add the flour and mix until just combined.

Switch to a spoon or spatula, and stir in the pecans, almond or vanilla extract and salt.

Remove 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside. Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of a 9×9 pan. Spoon the raspberry preserves evenly over the surface.

Sprinkle the reserved butter/flour mixture over the top. Bake for 30 minutes.

As soon as pan comes out of oven, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top, so the heat of the dish will melt them slightly. Cool at least 15 minutes and cut into squares.

Source: Chez Cherie in La Canada, California

We even had fun light-up glasses where we enjoyed a wonderful, refreshing bottle of rose that we picked up at our favorite, Sunstone Winery in Santa Barbara, CA.

We were blessed with a gorgeous sunset over the Hollywood Bowl.

August 13, 2008

Healthy Crispy Rice Treats

Filed under: dessert, Uncategorized, Weight Watchers — Emily @ 5:14 am

In my quest for eating healthier, I saw this made on the Food Network and have been meaning to try them for awhile. I’m not normally a fan of Rice Krispy treats, but these have peanut butter—and chocolate!! How can you go wrong? They are delicious! I might use a touch more honey and peanut butter–or a little less cereal because they were not quite sticky enough and crumbled a bit.

Healthy Crispy Rice Treats


1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup natural chunky-style peanut butter
6 cups crispy brown rice cereal (I actually couldn’t find this at my normal grocery store, so I used organic regular rice cereal)
2/3 cup chopped dried cherries (3 ounces) or chocolate chips (I used the chocolate chips, but will use cherries to make my own type of breakfast bar sometime soon)
Cooking spray

Combine honey and peanut butter in a large pot and heat over medium-low heat until melted, about 2-3 minutes.

Add brown rice cereal and cherries and stir to combine until mixture is sticky.

Press into a 9 by 13-inch pan sprayed with cooking spray.

Let cool, then chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Cut into 15 (2 1/2 by 3-inch) squares.

Per Serving:

Calories 160; Total Fat 5 g; (Sat Fat 0.5 g, Mono Fat 0 g, Poly Fat 0 g) ; Protein 3 g; Carb 26 g; Fiber 2 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 35 mg

Source: Adapted from Food Network’s Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger

Healthier Sloppy Joes and Mashed Cauliflower

Filed under: beef, side dish, vegetables, Weight Watchers — Emily @ 4:06 am

I saw this on a friend’s blog and decided to try it out! I’m always looking for healthy, easy recipes. The other thing I really like about the cauliflower recipe is that it had a ton of flavor without sacrificing the nutritional value. I always thought that eating broccoli drenched in a fatty cheese sauce kind of defeated the purpose! I adapted a little bit, but they both turned out great. Aaron told me that these were the best sloppy joes he’s ever had. Well, great!

Healthier Sloppy Joes


1 lb. lean ground beef (I used 4% fat)

1/2 cup onion, small-diced

2 cloves garlic (I used Trader Joe’s frozen garlic cubes–love these things)

Pam spray

1 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. oregano

1 Tbsp. cumin

1 tsp. cayenne (if you want a little heat)

1/2 cup no salt added tomato sauce

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

1/4 cup water

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1/4 cup ketchup

salt and pepper to taste

Heat in a medium sized skillet over medium heat and add the Pam spray. Add onions and cook until translucent.

Add extra lean ground beef and break up with a wooden spoon.

Add herbs, spices and garlic and cook until meat is browned.

Add tomato products, water, brown sugar and ketchup. Simmer until thickened, about 5-8 minutes.

Serve on whole wheat buns.

Mashed Cauliflower


1 bag (16 oz.) frozen cauliflower

2 Tbsp. fat free or low-fat cream cheese

2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup skim milk

salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Put cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and cook for approximately 6 minutes (or until heated through).

Add remaining ingredients and put in microwave for another 2 minutes.

Using a blender, process cauliflower until it reaches the desired consistency (best if not pureed too much!)

Source: Adapted from Culinary Infatuations by Ally

Mom’s Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Filed under: Uncategorized — Emily @ 3:46 am

I don’t have a picture, but I thought I’d share this recipe since it is by far my favorite banana bread recipe. I like it much better than the Black and White Banana bread from below. Although I think I would love Dorie’s recipe if I had added chocolate chips instead of plain chocolate.

My mom passed along this recipe in the book she put together for my wedding. Her inscription on this recipe says: “A favorite of your teenage years”

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread:


1/2 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 large mashed bananas

1 1/2 cup flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 cup chocolate chips

Cream together the butter and brown sugar.

Add the eggs, vanilla and mashed bananas.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips.

Bake in greased loaf pan for 60-70 minutes at 350 degrees F.

August 11, 2008

Monrovia Street Fair

Filed under: Events — Emily @ 7:11 am

Last weekend, we went to the Monrovia Street Fair/Farmer’s Market with our good friends (and newlyweds) Karen and Dan. We had a blast! It was one of the best Farmer’s markets that I have attended. Certainly one of the best in Southern California. It is held every Friday night, year-round—varying hours depending on the season. We had so much good food—I definitely need to go back to taste all that I wanted to! We ended up choosing barbecue and it was great. We ended with some candied pecans which were amazing! I didn’t get a picture because Aaron ate them so fast. Aaron once decided that he wanted to go into business selling candied nuts–he is obsessed.

Stuffed Burgers

Filed under: beef, Weight Watchers — Emily @ 6:47 am

This is a pretty simple recipe that is fairly healthy. In an effort to eat a little healthier (I know, I know–the huge potato with toppings)—however, these little burgers are only 2 Weight Watcher points per serving—not bad at all. For the potato I used the new Sargento Potato Finishers, which are not all that bad for you. I’ve tried both types—and they are both excellent. Would make a great meal by themselves.

Stuffed Burgers:

11 patties/2 points each


1/4 c. egg beaters
1 c. water
1 (6 oz) box Stove Top stuffing
1/2 tsp. minced garlic (from jar)
2 green onions, slice thin
1 pound lean ground beef

1. In medium bowl, combine egg substitute & water. Stir in stuffing & let sit for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add the garlic, onions, and ground beef. Mix well w/hands to combine.
3. Divide into 11 balls.
4. Place 4-5 balls in skillet w/cooking spray, then flatten w/spatula. Cook over medium heat on each side until meat is no longer pink inside.

Can freeze the remaining patties for later use!

Source: Teale’s Meals

Black and White Banana Bread

Filed under: bread, dessert, Tuesdays with Dorie — Emily @ 6:29 am

Another recipe from Dorie Greenspan. While this recipe was good—and very moist. I much prefer my mom’s banana bread with chocolate chips. I think I might use this banana bread recipe sometime and put chocolate chips in instead. My husband, on the other hand, would rather see plain banana bread—he doesn’t like “mix ins” like nuts or chocolate.

Black and White Banana Bread


1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 1/2 ripe bananas, peeled

Squirt of fresh lemon juice

Grated zest of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon dark rum (omitted because I didn’t have it)

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup sugar

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup whole milk

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter an 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-x2 1/2-inch loaf pan, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked one on top of the other.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

In a small bowl, mash the bananas with the lemon juice and zest, then stir in the rum.

Melt the chocolate and 2 tablespoons of the butter together in a microwave oven or in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the remaining stick of butter at medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes, until light and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. The batter will look curdled, and it will continue to look curdled as you add ingredients. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half the flour mixture, mixing only until it is just incorporated. With the mixer running, pour in the milk, and when it is blended, add the remaining dry ingredients. Scrape down the bowl and mix in the mashed bananas. The batter will look even lumpier.

Pour a little less than half the batter into the bowl with the melted chocolate and stir to blend. Drop alternating spoonfuls of both batters into the prepared pan, then, using a table knife, swirl the batters together, taking care not to overdo it.

Bake for 1 hour and 20 to 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. Check after 30 minutes and if the cakes starts to brown too much, cover it loosely with a foil tent. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it rest for about 15 minutes before unmolding, then cool the cake to room temperature right side up on the rack.

Serving: Makes about 8 servings. This cake is good cut thick or thin, served plain or with some ice ceam. It’s very good with coffee or tea and especially good with chocolate milk, hot or cold.

Storing: Wrapped in plastic wrap, the cake will keep for 4 to 5 days at room temperature, wrapped airtight, it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer.

Playing Around: If you’d like to add a little more texture to the cake as well as another flavor, add 1/3 cup chopped toasted pecans to either of the batters.

Source: Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

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