Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking

October 31, 2008

Extra Moist Cornbread

Filed under: bread, side dish — Emily @ 1:27 am

My friend Elise sent me this recipe and it is delicious! I usually serve it with chili or my favorite Taco Soup!

Extra Moist Cornbread


3 – 7oz packages of corn bread mix (If you use Jiffy, eliminate the sugar in the recipe)

1 lg. sweet onion chopped (can omit if desired)

2 cups shredded Colby/Monterey Jack cheese

2 large. beaten eggs

2 ½ cup whole or butter milk

½ cup vegetable oil

3 tablespoons sugar

1-15oz can cream-style corn

6 oz. chopped jalapeno (optional, I chose not to use it this time)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9×13-inch pan or cast-iron skillet. Mix all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes.


October 30, 2008

Autumn Squash with Chili Flavors

Filed under: side dish, vegetables, vegetarian — Emily @ 6:37 am

Another great recipe from the cooking school that I go to, Chez Cherie, in La Canada, California. We have an excellent Farmer’s Market here in Studio City on Sundays from 8AM-1PM. I found some great looking butternut squash for $1 each so I snapped one up and decided to try the recipe out again. I’ve never really worked with butternut squash before but this is a great recipe—especially if you are hesitant to try squash. The general consensus for cutting up butternut squash: Make sure you use a large, sharp knife. Cut the squash around the “equator”—in the middle, where the round part starts turning into the long part. The bottom part will have seeds which you will need to scoop out–the top part won’t. Cut off the skin with a large vegetable peeler or a knife (I prefer a knife). Sorry for the blurry picture–my camera was not cooperating with me!

Autumn Squash with Chili Flavors

4 cups butternut squash, acorn squash or pumpkin cubes (or a combination)
1 red onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
pinch of chipotle powder
drizzle of olive oil
1 can kidney or black beans (we used black beans), drained and rinsed
4 oz. can diced green chiles
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen and thawed
1 1/2 cups grated cheese (Jack or Mexican blend)


Preheat oven to 400.

Place the squash cubes and red onion on a baking sheet, and season with salt, pepper and chipotle powder.

Drizzle with olive oil and roast until squash is tender, about 18-20 minutes.

Toss with drained beans, chiles, corn and cheese. Adjust seasonings to taste.

**Can also reheat with chicken stock to make a soup or puree.

Source: Chez Cherie

October 29, 2008

Biscuits and Gravy

Filed under: breakfast — Emily @ 4:44 am

I lived in Nashville, Tennessee for 5 years (through college and graduate school—which included my first 2 years of marriage). Since it is in the South, one of the most popular dishes is biscuits and gravy. You will find this EVERYWHERE—from hotel buffets, brunches, my college cafeteria breakfasts and on just about every restaurant breakfast menu. I think even McDonald’s has biscuits and gravy in Nashville! Needless to say, it is delicious! I don’t often find it here in L.A (although there is a delightful stall at the L.A Farmer’s Market on 3rd and Fairfax that has a pretty good version!) It is a very easy meal to throw together and actually isn’t *that* bad for you if you keep your portions reasonable. Tonight we had “Dinner for Breakfast” and this was an excellent change from the normal pancakes or waffles. I served it with some turkey bacon and used Pillsbury buttermilk biscuits for a quick meal. If you are going to make homemade biscuits, I recommend buttermilk since it is the most authentic to have with the gravy.

Sausage Gravy

1 lb. pork sausage (I prefer Jimmy Dean in a roll—no casings)
7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3-4 cups milk (I used 3 to make it a bit thicker)
1/2 tsp sage
1/4 tsp salt

A few dashes of onion powder

A few dashes of freshly ground pepper

In a large skillet over medium heat cook the sausage and onion until sausage is no longer pink. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet (depending on your pork, you may not need to drain). Stir flour into sausage and drippings until blended. Cook and stir until light golden brown. Add seasonings and gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir until desired thickness.

October 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Recipe: Heavenly Sweet Potatoes

Filed under: holiday — Emily @ 4:04 am

I started making this sweet potato dish a few years ago and it is absolutely delicious. Now it is definitely a must-have on our Thanksgiving table. Unfortunately, my dad does not like sweet potatoes—but who could dislike them when they are covered in brown sugar and pecans? Yum.

Heavenly Sweet Potatoes

6 small cans sweet potatoes-drained and mashed (approx. 3 cups?)
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c milk
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla

Combine well and pour into a 9×13 pan.

1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter
1/3 c flour
1 cup chopped pecans

Mix together and pour over sweet potato mixture. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

*I use fresh sweet potatoes (about 2 large potatoes) instead of canned. I bake them the day before, then follow the recipe.

October 25, 2008

Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Pesto Penne Piccolini

Filed under: pasta — Emily @ 3:56 am

I saw this recipe on one of my new favorite blogs, Picky Palate. She has lots of delicious brownies, cookies and other treats, as well as some easy weeknight meals. This one was definitely a hit!

Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Pesto Penne Piccolini


½ Cup roasted red bell peppers from can or fresh

3 cloves fresh garlic

1/3 Cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/3 Cup pine nuts

1 ½ Cups basil leaves

½ teaspoon salt

½ Cup extra virgin olive oil

1 lb Penne Piccolini

¼ Cup heavy cream, if desired (I added it for a more creamy sauce, but it’s great just with the pesto as well)


Place roasted red peppers and garlic into food processor. Pulse until well combined. Add the parmesan, pine nuts, basil leaves and salt. With processor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil. Set aside.

Cook penne according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large rimmed skillet or pot. Pour in pesto and stir. Stir in heavy cream if desired. Heat for 5 minutes or until heated through. Best served immediately.

Source: Picky Palate

October 23, 2008

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

Filed under: breakfast, dessert — Emily @ 2:23 am

Another recipe from Annie’s blog that I have loved!! These were delicious—and very easy to whip up with things I already had in the pantry. These make a great breakfast….yum! And can you ask for a better combo—peanut butter and chocolate chips? I think not. Make sure you have plenty of milk on hand.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins


2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

2/3 cup brown sugar

6 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled

½ cup peanut butter

2 large eggs

1 cup milk

¾ cup chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375°. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and brown sugar. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, peanut butter, eggs and milk until smooth. Add in the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Divide batter evenly between prepared muffin tins, filling each to the top.

Bake for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: Annie’s Eats

October 21, 2008

Thanksgiving Essentials

Filed under: holiday — Emily @ 11:34 pm

Since the holidays are fast approaching, I thought I would start sharing some of the recipes and products that I love. Over the next few weeks I will share my favorite Thanksgiving recipes that I will be making this year.

I thought I would start by sharing some of my favorite products that make my Thanksgiving meal so delicious (and easier!) I love cooking our Thanksgiving dinner. I don’t do anything really fancy—we stick with the same, traditional favorites every year. I figure, we only do it once a year, we might as well do everything we know we love.

This year my family (parents and brother) will be coming in from Chicago. This was kind of a last minute decision, so they are not flying in until Thursday at noon. So I will be preparing the meal mostly by myself. I have discovered several recipes, tools and products from Williams Sonoma that are wonderful and I thought I would pass them along to my blog readers so you have a chance to get anything you might like before the big day. Keep in mind that sometimes Williams Sonoma runs out of these products, so go early!

The first thing I always get is the Apple & Spices Turkey Brine. Here is the product description:

A brine bath before roasting or grilling does wonders for turkey. Our blend combines aromatic seasonings including coarse sea salt, dried apples, juniper berries, lemon peel, and Spanish rosemary and other herbs. These flavors are complemented by the piquant spiciness of three varieties of peppercorns. When combined with water, the mix draws moisture and flavor into the meat, keeping turkey, chicken and pork tender and succulent as they cook.

Shortly, I will share the brine recipe that I will use this year (buttermilk-brined turkey) and my method for roasting the perfect turkey!

The second product that I always get from Williams Sonoma is the Organic Turkey Herbs. I use these herbs in melted butter to baste over the turkey. Delicious!

Our aromatic blend of sage, thyme and marjoram will add distinctive flavor to your roasted turkey and dressing. The herbs are also delicious blended into soups, stews and vegetable dishes. Perfected by Chuck Williams, the mix provides just the right balance of seasonings. The herbs are organically grown in the Mediterranean region, where the climate is ideal for them to flourish, and hand harvested for us at their peak of flavor.

And finally, I love the Turkey Gravy Base.

Making the gravy for your Thanksgiving feast can be challenging when you’re trying to juggle numerous last minute cooking tasks. Success is assured with our savory base on hand. Just add milk and turkey drippings, then whisk, simmer and serve.

So these are some of my Thanksgiving essentials! What are some of yours?? Coming up I will share the following Thanksgiving recipes:

· My perfected Roasted Turkey Breast with Gravy

· Mashed potatoes

· Sweet potato casserole

· Corn casserole (one of Aaron’s family recipes)

· Cornbread stuffing

· Pumpkin Pie

· Pecan Pie

October 6, 2008

Sweet 100

Filed under: Uncategorized — Emily @ 2:01 am

A few weeks ago I posted the Omnivore’s 100. I recently saw this on fellow food blogger Carrie’s blog and decided to see where I stood. Bold the things that you have eaten (and get ideas of things that you need to try).

What’s your score?

1. Red Velvet Cake

2. Princess Torte

3. Whoopie Pie

4. Apple pie topped or baked with sharp cheddar those in L.A can get this regularly at The Apple Pan

5. Beignet

6. Baklava

7. Black and White Cookie

8. Seven Layer Bar (also known as a Magic Bar or Hello Dolly bars)-I had these every Christmas

9. Fried fruit pie (also known as a hand pie)

10. Kringle

11. Just-fried (still hot) doughnut

12. Scone with clotted cream-in London

13. Betty, Grunt, Slump, Buckle, or Pandowdy

14. Halvah

15. Macaroons

16. Banana pudding with Nilla Wafers

17. Bubble tea (with tapioca “pearls”)-L.A is the capital of this stuff—I don’t like it

18. Dixie cup (I’m not sure what this is—any thoughts?)

19. Rice Krispie treats

20. Alfajores

21. Blondies

22. Croquembouche

23. Girl Scout Cookies

24. Moon cake

25. Candy Apple

26. Baked Alaska-in Alaska!

27. Brooklyn Egg Cream

28. Nanaimo Bar

29. Baba au rhum

30. King cake

31. Sachertorte–had one at the Sacher Hotel in Vienna

32. Pavlova

33. Tres Leches Cake

34. Trifle

35. Shoofly Pie

36. Key Lime Pie (made with real key lime)–in Key West, Florida

37. Panna Cotta

38. New York Cheesecake

39. Napoleon/mille-fueille

40. Russian Tea Cake/Mexican Wedding Cake

41. Anzac Biscuits

42. Pizzelle

43. Kolache

44. Buckeyes

45. Malasadas

46. Moon Pie

47. Dutch Baby

48. Boston Cream Pie

49. Homemade chocolate chip cookies

50. Pralines

51. Gooey Butter Cake

52. Rusks

53. Daifuku

54. Green tea cake or cookies

55. Cupcakes from a cupcake shopSprinkles is still the best in my opinion

56. Cream Brulee

57. Some sort of deep fried fair food (twinkie, candy bar or cupcake)

58. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting

59. Jelly Roll

60. Pop Tarts

61. Charlotte Russe

62. An “upside down” dessert (Pineapple upside down cake or Tarte Tatin)

63. Hummingbird cake

64. Jell-O from a mold

65. Blake Forest Cake

66. Mock Apple Pie (Ritz Cracker Pie)–I don’t think so. This sounds really gross.

67. Kulfi

68. Linzer torte

69. Churro

70. Stollen

71. Angel Food Cake

72. Mincemeat pie

73. Concha

74. Opera Cake

75. Sfogliatelle/Lobster Tail

76. Pain au chocolat

77. Piece of a gingerbread house

78. Cassata

79. Cannoli

80. Rainbow cookies

81.  Religieuse

82. Petit fours

83. Chocolate souffle

84. Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)

85. Rugelach

86. Hamenstashen

87. Homemade marshmallows

88. Rigo Janci-in Budapest, Hungary

89. Pie or cake made with candy bar flavors (Snickers, Reeses, etc..)

90. Divinity-very popular in the South where I lived for 5 years

91. Coke or Cola cake

92. Gateau Basque

93. S’mores

94. Figgy Pudding

95. Bananas Foster or other flaming dessert

96. Joe Froggers

97. Sables

98. Millionaire’s Shortbread

99. Animal crackers

100. Basbousa

82/100—not too bad!

October 4, 2008

White Bean Chicken Chili

Filed under: blogging events, chicken, soup — Emily @ 8:03 pm

Chili is definitely one of my all-time favorite Fall foods. There is nothing better than watching a football game on a cool Fall day (not too common here in L.A)–with a bowl of chili. I have been wanting to try white chili for a very long time but never got around to it. I am kicking myself now—because this recipe was awesome! And super easy. You can throw this together very fast. It was very creamy and delicious. Highly, highly recommended.

White Bean Chicken Chili

Yield: 6 servings


1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½ -inch cubes

1 medium onion, chopped

1 ½ tsp. garlic powder

1 tbsp. oil

2 (15.5 oz) cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed

1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth

2 (4 oz.) cans diced green chiles (I only used 1 can since I am not a huge fan of chiles)

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. dried oregano

½ tsp. pepper

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

1 cup reduced fat sour cream

½ cup whipping cream

fresh cilantro and paprika, for garnish


In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, sauté chicken, onion and garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add beans, broth, chiles and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer; let simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream and whipping cream. Sprinkle with paprika and top with fresh cilantro for garnish, if desired.

Source: Annie’s Eats

I am also going to submit this recipe to Joelen’s blogging event, Tasty Tools. This month’s tool is the Dutch Oven!

October 3, 2008

El Cholo (Pasadena, CA)

Filed under: restaurant review — Emily @ 5:03 am

We went to the Pasadena location of El Cholo, which has several restaurants in L.A., and has been in existence since 1923 (originally called the Sonora Cafe). It is delicious! And the outdoor patio at the Pasadena location is great—especially for large groups (as we were) and parties.

Tortilla Soup–cup ($3.95)

Fiesta Platter for 2 ($9.50)–Crab and Beef Taquitos, Nachos, Quesadillas, and Chimichangas served with Guacamole and Sour Cream

Sizzling Fajitas ($14.75)–marinated steak sauteed with fresh garden vegetables

Combo #3 ($10.50)–Cheese Enchilada and Tamale served with frijoles and Spanish rich

Carne Asada ($15.50)–New York steak beans, rice and pico de gallo


El Cholo

958 S Fair Oaks Ave
Pasadena, CA 91105
(626) 441-4353

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