Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking

November 23, 2011

Lima Bean Casserole

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Emily @ 11:28 am

For the last several years I have hosted Thanksgiving dinner for friends who don’t have any family in town for the holidays. My family usually comes out from Chicago and we have a big gathering of friends and family—so fun. Last year my friend Jenn brought one of her family recipes. When she first mentioned what she had brought, I’ll be honest–I was less than enthusiastic. It sounded kind of gross. But being a nice host (and friend), I helped myself to a (small) portion. It was SO good! It was so good that we’ve since made it for Christmas, Easter, etc… Making it again today for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. Thanks Jenn for introducing us to this awesome (and easy) recipe! 

Lima Bean Casserole

1 family size bag of frozen lima beans 
1/2-1 medium onion, chopped
8 pieces of bacon
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 SMALL block of Velveeta cheese

Cook bacon in a sauté pan and pull apart into small pieces. Cook lima beans according to package. Cook onions in bacon grease while beans are cooking. Mix beans, onions, bacon and cream of mushroom soup together. Cut the velveeta cheese block into cubes and mix in with other ingredients. Bake in casserole dish on 350 for 30 mins. Add grated velveeta cheese to top of casserole for last 5 minutes of baking (optional).

Source: My friend Jenn T.


October 15, 2009

Garlic Pilaf

Filed under: rice, side dish, Uncategorized, vegetarian — Emily @ 8:02 am

This is a great side dish that is quick to throw together and goes with most entrees.  I am notorious for putting all my effort into the main dish and neglecting sides. While this takes a few extra minutes, most of the time is down time, so you can put everything together and then focus on the main dish. It is definitely worth it! I recently had this with one of our favorite easy and quick dishes, Laughing Cow Chicken–which I will share soon!

Baked Garlic Rice Pilaf

2 Tbsp. butter

3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 cup long-grain white rice

2 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

Squeeze of lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Have ready a covered casserole dish.

In a saucepan or skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and rice to the pan and cook until both are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.  Stir in 1 cup of the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Pour the mixture into the casserole dish, cover, and bake for 25 minutes.  Stir in the remaining 1½ cups chicken broth and bake, covered, for another 45 minutes.  About 15 minutes before it is finished baking, stir in a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Note: This recipe can be doubled without increasing the baking time.

Source: Annie’s Eats

September 30, 2009

Easy Appetizer: Goat Cheese with Marinara Sauce

Filed under: Uncategorized — Emily @ 8:49 am

My mom always has great ideas for quick and easy appetizers. At my parents cabin in Michigan, they usually have appetizers and drinks down by the lake at sunset. After spending some time in Michigan with my parents over Labor Day, I picked up some great ideas for new appetizers. None of these are real “recipes”, but I thought I’d share the ideas with you all.  This appetizer is the easiest thing to make–but it is still sophisticated.

Goat Cheese with Marinara Sauce

1 log of plain (not herbed) goat cheese

1 jar of good quality marinara sauce

Pour some of the marinara sauce in a shallow microwavable baking dish. Place the log of goat cheese on top and heat in microwave or oven until goat cheese/sauce is warmed–but don’t let it melt!

Serve with bite size crostinis or crackers.

August 17, 2009

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Filed under: cupcakes, dessert, Uncategorized — Emily @ 2:20 am

This is a recipe that my mom always used to make for us as kids for after school snacks. I have such fond memories of these cupcakes—they are so delicious! And very easy to make. I use cupcake mix to make it a little quicker, but you could certainly do everything from scratch.

Black Bottom Cupcakes

1 box chocolate cake mix–plus whatever ingredients necessary to make cupcakes from box (eggs, oil, water, etc…)

8 oz. cream cheese

1/3 cup sugar

dash of salt

1 egg

1 cup chocolate chips

Mix cupcakes as directed on box until time to fill cups.

Mix together cream cheese, sugar, salt, egg, and chocolate chips.

Fill cupcake tins half full. Add 1 spoonful of cream cheese mix into cups.

Bake as directed on box.

August 11, 2009

Where has the year gone??

Filed under: Uncategorized — Emily @ 7:37 pm

I’m not going to lie. I’ve been very tempted to give up this food blog all together. This has been a pretty craptastic year for me (are you supposed to say crap on a blog about food?) The week after my last “real” entry, I was rushed via ambulance to the hospital with bilateral pulmonary embolisms (blood clots in both my lungs) and was told that I almost died. I spent a week at UCLA Medical Center (on the same floor that I work on—oh, the irony). While it was nice to have my co-workers walk down the hall to come visit me, it was a little humbling to have them see me all in my hospital gown sucking on oxygen via face mask.

While I don’t have many lingering physical effects from my ordeal (in fact, no one can even figure out exactly why it happened), there definitely has been an adjustment. I’m now on blood thinners–probably for life. So if you don’t see many green, leafy vegetables on this food blog from here on out—this is my excuse. I can’t eat them (they conteract the blood thinners—too much vitamin K). And I also have to get my blood drawn way too frequently—and sometimes have to give myself shots of heparin.

And did I mention that I’m still having to deal with a lot of back issues from the major back surgery I had last year? Oh—and in January I went back to graduate school for a second Master’s degree… Nashville….and I live in Los Angeles. So yeah….there’s that too. Plus my full-time job (well, 2 days a week–which is full time at my job!)

With all the things that were going on in my life—the food blog was kind of left at the wayside. But recently I was reviewing my old entries….and I really decided that I wanted to start again! My graduate school is finishing next week, my health is on the upswing and I’m back to having MUCH more free time. So I hope I can keep it up! Not sure if there is anyone still out there reading it, but maybe eventually. I can’t promise that I will always have great pictures (although I did get a new DSLR camera for my birthday…in February…..and I’m still not entirely sure how to use it), but I will give it my best shot (pun intended).

And just so you don’t feel too sorry for me—or think I am too much of a complainer. I did have some really great things happen this year. I spent a week in Mexico with some awesome family members and I spent 2 weeks in the Dominican Republic on a medical missions trip with friends.  I also accompanied my husband and a bunch of high school/college students on a rebuilding trip to Galveston, Texas following the hurricane. Oh—and I ate my birthday dinner next to Charlize Theron at Craft in L.A!

I will leave you with a few pictures from the last few months, so you can catch up. And I hope to be back with some great new recipes very soon.

One of my first pictures with my new camera—at Palos Verdes Lighthouse on my birthday.

My husband and I at Griffith Park Observatory In Mexico for Aaron’s cousin’s wedding

In the Dominican Republic working with Haitian refugees

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!

September 17, 2008

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

Filed under: soup, Uncategorized, vegetarian — Emily @ 12:33 am

This soup was absolutely delicious. The flavor of thyme was perfect! Aaron and I both loved this dish and will definitely be making it again. It was a little time consuming—you need to make the mushroom stock (you could make it ahead of time and it would definitely make the process a lot quicker). But this is perfect for some of the cooler days ahead (well, not so much in Los Angeles….)


Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

5 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
5 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms
5 ounces fresh cremini (or porcini) mushrooms
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 carrot, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley


Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Don’t wash them! Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if there are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 pound of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot.

Source: Ina Garten

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.

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