Friday, December 24, 2010

12 Different Christmas Cookies!?!!!

Tis' the season to buy gifts for loved ones…
Tis' the season to be merry and sing Christmas Carols…
Tis' the season to eat a lot of things we don't normally consume throughout the year...
Why not bake some cookies right?

Well if you know me, you know I love to bake. I'm a fan of sweets and I like to try baking. I've come to realize that once I start I can't stop!
I was in a very merry mood and began to bake, like I do every year for friends and family. I give out cookie platters as my Christmas gift to my friends and neighbors, coworkers and the like. This year I began with a few cookie tins and a list of 12 different cookies that I planned to make. Well my list began to expand and instead of 3 consecutive days of baking, it turned into a week. And instead of baking to fill 4 cookie tins, I filled 5 large cookie tins and 10 platters.
Here is what I have been baking in the past week:

Rainbow cookies

Chocolate Biscotti cookies

Chocolate Chip 

White chip macadamia nut


Peanut Butter cookies
Sugar cookies
Spice Cupcakes
Brownies with Chocolate chip cookie dough

Pecan tartlets

Chocolate cookies with white chips

Lemon cookies
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip
red velvet cake balls
Chocolate Snowballs

Here is what one of the platters looked like:

Let's Try Fish Again...

Foil-baked Fish with Black Beans and Corn

I saw this recipe and thought this would be a good meal to prepare and leave in the fridge. Basically you prepare the beans and corn to lay it on the foil. Prepare the fish with a butter mixture over top of it and place it on top of the bean and corn mixture. The meal can then be sealed in the foil and either put in the oven to bake or in the fridge to eat at a later time.
This was a good overall meal. It was a colorful, tasty dish; sweet and at the same time I felt it wasn't fatty at all. They a good portions too.

Keeps You Wanting More

Super- Spicy Chili Mac 

This chili was amazing. Each spoonful brought a different flavor in my mouth. I love making dishes like this because it's one pot of a bunch of flavors and its easy to make.
My friend and I couldn't stop eating this and the kids enjoyed it too. For those out there who aren't aware: It's difficult to make a dish that kids will enjoy just as much as you will.
The chili has a little spice to it but just enough to please the people who like spicy food and enough for people who don't like spicy food to eat this dish as well. I've been using jalepenos to liven up the dishes a bit. I understand it's difficult to control the spice that goes into a meal and to please everyone. It's been a good experience.
Sam Adams and Chili Mac was a good combo!


We are Coming over Tonight, What's for Dinner?

      My brother and sister in law had plans to come over for dinner. This would have been no problem at all if it was any other time of the year. But it was Monday of finals week and I had an electronic portfolio to complete by wednesday of that week. Boy was I all over the place getting this dinner together. I looked for something that didn't require too much work and time. Then I realized my entire cook book consists of just that "The Best Simple Recipes!"
I put together a chicken and pasta dish. It was pretty good. In it were pine nuts that I've never really eaten before. Very good. We accompanied the meal with a salad.
Chicken and Spinach Farfalle

Soup Time

I thought it was a good time for soup again. A lot of the soup in this book consists of the same thing. I think that the rotisserie chicken is good to buy ahead of time and just piece apart. It saves time and it's really good.
This time I made Moroccan Chicken Soup. Since I had the kitchen to myself, I thought this would be good to freeze and save for a later date. Definitly leave the pasta out of it until it's time for you to eat the soup. I think I wrote this before but the pasta just absorbes all of the soup, leaving you all the pasta, vegetables and chicken extra cooked and soggy. The spice Garam Masala was added to give it that Indian food taste.
All in all, the soup was good for one bowl but not good enough to keep eating. I think it was the spices that got to me.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Am I Cooking Tonight?

Beef and Vegetable Fajitas

This was pretty good. I don't know how to buy skirt steak. I've never bought it and i thought the meat would be labeled. but it wasn't. Come to find out it's like a london broil. Anyways I didn't use it. I used 2 different type of meat. angus beef and strips of stew steak.
Guacamole is a good side for the fajitas. It was my first time making it. i really need to practice because it wasn't tasty. I'm not a fan of avacado and that's all it tasted like. I wasn't a fan of it but i guess thats just something I should practice.
I ate this meal with salad and fried platanoes on the side. I think rice would be a good side too.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Spring Rolls

Ginger-Pork Spring Rolls
I didn't have anyone to cook for me so0o0o0... I opened up the book to this page. I've never eaten Asian foods as much as I do when I cook them. This was such a great time. I've never worked with rice paper before. Let me tell you, it was tough at first but you need to know that it dries quick so you must work quickly. Its like working with a circular thin noodle. You can't wrap it too tight or else it rips like some of mine did!

The recipe called for Asian-chili garlic sauce that I don't have randomly at my house so I improvised (like always). I used 1/4 of a red hot chili and 1 garlic clove. adding this to the housin sauce and soy sauce made it taste just fine. I ate this for lunch 2 days ago, then dinner that same night and then lunch the next day. It was really good. I used a broccoli based coleslaw instead of the normal cabbage based one. Yea I just had to be different. It has a harder texture to it like shredded carrots basically but it was still good. I just don't know how to warm these up without a microwave!

Jamie is coming over?!

Jamie (my brother's friend) came over for the weekend and I haven't cooked for my brother or sister-in-law yet so I took this opportunity to cook for them all. hmm... a Sauteed Chicken with Mustard and Dill Sauce would be nice for dinner. Since we were still in November I thought a nice side to the chicken dish would be butternut squash. I had found this recipe in a magazine a couple weeks back that looked good so I used it. I had never cooked butternut squash before nor had I eaten it much in the past. I had no idea what this meal was going to taste like. As a matter of fact I never really know what these meals are going to taste like until I start smelling it as it cooks! It's a surprise not only to the family and friends willing to eat my cooking but to me as well!
Well it was a very good meal. The butternut squash with spinach came out good I just should have left it in the oven a little longer so it would come out softer. But the chicken and dill mustard sauce was great!
  • shallot minced
  • chicken broth
  • dry white wine
  • unsalted butter
  • fresh dill, chopped
  • whole grain mustard

Tis the Season...

Thanksgiving came and went without me cooking...
 We had our fair share of turkey and amazing stuffing. peas and mushrooms,Mashed potatoes and gravey, sweet potatoes with marshmellows MMMMM!!!!!
Falling asleep after a meal always is a good sign!
But wait we can't forget about desserts. I baked Pumpkin Blondies which were a hit. There was pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin pie, apple pie, peacan pie, Italian cheesecake some cookies in case you didn't like the traditional pies and cakes!
One day I'll be able to contribute to thanksgiving
but until then, back to the kitchen!

I could eat this every day!
Glazed Chicken with Corn Relish
I make chicken a lot and I never realized how long it has to cook because I usually cook boneless chicken breasts not chicken on the bone. You would think it would be faster.
I learned from this recipe...
double the recipe (who ever made this book thought that 1 chicken was enough for 1 person) They were wrong about portions!
I never really go by the times they say in the book either because it always seems to be longer than they suggest.
They also suggest to cook the chicken on a skillet but maybe it would cook more thoroughly in the oven? You tell me!
Overall I did cook it all the way don't worry about that. There is an orange glaze over the chicken that consists of orange marmalade, orange juice and zest from the orange and minced chipotles in adobo... I used jalapenos instead because I can control the heat that way. I haven't used the chipotles in adobo yet...
I'm liking this cilantro and scallions trick they keep using a lot! it's so tastaaaay!

Quick Lunch

Chopped Salad with Apples, Bacon and Turkey

I needed to make a quick salad because I wanted to eat with my mother before I went to go make dinner somewhere else. I've been hopping from kitchen to kitchen trying to spread the taste of my cooking around. So I made this as simple as possible. It's the most tasty salad you will ever have and the dressing was tangy but when mixing it with the apples its such a sweet and sour taste it's delicious! I left out the bacon because I wanted to make it healthier and I just didn't have the time to cook the bacon.
here's the ingredients:
romaine lettuce
deli cut turkey breast
apples (macs)
for the dressing:
crumbled blue cheese
olive oil
cider vinegar
salt and pepper

What's the Soup of the Day?

Spicy Chicken Fideo Soup
I really wanted to make soup because I haven't yet out of this book. I think to make soup you have to be in the mood for it and it should be cold out. It was the first days of november when I made this but I had to work. I knew my family was getting together for dinner so I was nice enough to make it and they were nice enough to be my ginea pigs.
I never had to make soup in this way before. First off I had to double the recipe and I thought that would be difficult considering I really love to bake and it's always hard to double baking recipes. Anyway, I had to make the pasta golden brown on the stove in oil before adding it to the soup. I'm not sure what that does...
I've learned when making soup with any type of pasta you shouldn't add the pasta until you serve each portion. This helps the pasta to not over-cook when re-heating and the pasta is less likely to absorb all of the liquid in the pot.
The avocado, fresh cilantro and Monterey Jack cheese were a nice touch to each dish when serving.
This was a hit dish for the family. They loved it!! I was so excited to hear this and they even wanted the recipe.


Tuna Melt
I try to use the things that my mother buys before I go out and buy things that are seldom used in my house. I found a bunch of tuna and then opened the book and there it was "Mediterranean Tuna Melt." In the book it looks so much better than the way mine came out. And you would think that sandwiches are easy to make right?! well this one was. I didn't use tomatoes.. I'm not a fan (I think I've said that before)

This was a really good sandwich. The recipe calls for artichokes and I wouldn't have thought to mix the two but it comes out great! I think this would be good to have as a spread for crackers. It tastes pretty good. You should try it! I would suggest to combine it in a blender to make it a spread:
  • canned tuna
  • artichokes thawed and chopped
  • red onion chopped fine
  • mayonaise
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

On the other hand...
I had an old friend stop by and I wanted to make something quick and easy. You would think that a sandwich would be ideal during lunch time.... Well it wasn't very good.
I forgot to take a picture but I made Oven-Grilled Reuben Sandwiches
I've never had a real Reuben sooo I had nothing to compare it to, but my friend aparently likes reubens and has had his fair share in his days. The reuben I made consisted of coleslaw, mustard, mayonaise, rye bread, swiss cheese and corned beef...
Can ANYONE tell me what a real reuben consists of???!!!!!

Crunch Time!

I apologize to all my readers out there who have been awaiting another creation to be posted. I've had quite a month with finalizing school lesson plans and working weekends that I've been neglecting the blogs. Needless to say I haven't been neglecting the cooking aspect. A girls gotta eat right?!
I have pictures and stories to share that are experiences nonetheless...
Keep reading because I haven't given up this project!! Despite the messes i've made, most have been delicious!!
Can't everything be as simple as the way Strega Nona makes it out to be?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Skillet Strata with Spinach and Feta

I went to the vegetarian section of my cook book and looked for something good. I found this picture and it looked good and easy to make. I wanted easy this day because it was the same day I baked the pumpkin blondies.
It tastes like a spinach quich. I felt like it was missing something. I got bored with the taste. This would work with a crust at the bottom just like a quich. i would use this to serve at a get together or party as an appetizer. I don't know if i were to make it as a meal again but if so I would add sausage to see how that would work. Maybe it will be more filling and more flavorful.

Halloween Week

I've had some pretty exciting experiences during the fall season. I want to share the baking I've done too!!
i'm not a big fan of pumpkin. When I'm offered pumpkin pie i kindly decline because there's just something about it that I don't like. But I was walking through the baking isle in the supermarket a couple of weeks ago and I saw a can of pumpkin puree. I thought "there's got to be something fun I can do with this." Then next to it I saw the brownie mix and thought "pumpkin brownies!"

I spoke to my friend from the culinary and put together a plan to bake together. We thought of making pumpkin blondies. It was a great idea. We used flour, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and added white chocolate chips for effect and sweetness. I can tell you it went fast and within the week i have to make more. It was very good. A lot better than pumpkin pie!! I want to make it again for thanksgiving!
I also wanted to stay in the holiday season and I wanted to make moster cookies. A monster cookie would consist of cookie dough with a lot of candy thrown in at the end to create these monsterous cookies filled with goodness. I instead made chocolate almond joy cookies. The blue in the cookies are the almond joy pieces. The hint of coconut gave the cookies a different taste it wasn't so consistant with the chocolate flavors.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Guess I'll Cook Since No One is Here

Grilled Spicy Lime Chicken with Black Bean Salad

I never told you about this masterpiece! It was so0o0o good. I made this one day because my family decided to go apple picking and had left me behind. Mostly because I had to go to work and I didn't have enough time. BUT I did have enough time to cook. Well mostly prepare.
This dish is perfect if you have a busy day and you just want to throw together something healthy. I prepared this black bean salad and marinated the chicken for my parents when they returned from apple picking. Unfortunatly I don't have a picture of the chicken but all grilled chicken looks the same. They thought it was delicious and they actually wanted me to make the marinade again for a dinner we had the next night.
This recipe called for Chipotle Chiles in adobo and I chose to go with the jalepeno instead. I would personally use more than I did but I had to regulate the spice for the children and the people who don't enjoy spicy foods.
I give this an A++++! You know the meal is good when it changes your view on vegetables and you crave it again!

October 10, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

That's What We Are Making!?

Wow! The picture looks really good. It's October, tis the season to be using butternut squash!
Gnocchi with Squash, Spinach and Prosciutto
I've never have gnocchi before so it was my first time trying it. I was never really a fan of prosciutto either. This in the long run was not a good dish for my taste.
Some things I learned while making this dish:
-fresh thyme and dry thyme when measured are totally different amounts. When the recipe says fresh and gives the measurement, you use that measurement. When the recipe says fresh and you use Dry, then you add half of the amount it calls for. I learned this the hard way.
- When buying prosciutto you should always ask for thin slices. Mine were too thick which made each bite saltier than they should have been.
I didn't add much salt to the dish because of the proscuitto.
I was not a fan of the texture of the dish. very dough-like...
Final thought: not making it again. On to the next one!

October 19, 2010
"What is it?"
"it's gnocchi."
"Don't tell me it's yucky before I even try it"

Thursday, October 7, 2010

This looks like a nice picture

Spaghetti Puttanesca with Flaked Tuna
I flipped through the cookbook and landed on this colorful, delicious looking meal. I have seen this before (I think) in Italian restaurants and have never tried it. This is a recipe that I didn't have most of the ingredients for and that's including ANCHOVIES.
I've never worked with anchovies before and I was gagging as I opened the can. It was all in my head. You know when you talk to people who like anchovies on their pizza you automatically think its disgusting because its not the normal pepperoni. 
As you know I never follow the rules. I used sliced kalamata olives instead of pitted (not my fault)! 
In my house, we don't really cook with salt and if we do its very little. When I boiled the water I didn't add salt but I added it in the end, just a dash and some pepper.
This dish was alright. It's lacking flavor. It has flavors of tuna and some spice because of the crushed red pepper. I put such a small amount that I didn't think I would taste it, but I guess that's what it does when we let the flavors out and sautee it with other things right?

made October 7, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Quick Thai Beef and Vegetable Curry
I've only tasted Thai food once and I really liked it, but could I re-enact the flavorful dish at home?
I followed the recipe word for word. No substitutions here. I did however add rice to the dish. I googled what it should look like and it seemed right. The entire time I didn't confide in the look of the dish but the taste was amazing. I used angus steak strips for stir fry and the beef came out being too tough. I cooked the meat first to be medium knowing I had to add it to the vegetables. Any cooks out there know how to help that or is that just how that meat always comes out?
Suggestion: add rice to the dish and the next time I'm going to use shrimp instead of steak. My father and I thought this would be a good idea.

Made September 30, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I'm Cookin!

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
I’ve never attempted to make a casserole before. It seemed to me that they are just meals that you throw in a dish and put in the oven and forget about for a little bit. It wasn’t the case with this meal.
I thought it was really easy to prepare. It’s the first meal that I didn’t have to do major ingredient shopping for. I was so happy about that! The recipe calls for dry sherry wine and I had none. I Googled a replacement for sherry wine; Oh the wonders of the internet! I got a list of things you can replace it with: pineapple juice, apple juice, vanilla extract (1/2 the amount of sherry required), 1/4vinegar+ 1tbs sugar+ 1/4cup water, or vinegar+ water+ chicken broth. Since the recipe already called for chicken broth I used ¼ cup apple cider vinegar and ¼ cup of water. No need to season with salt, just use pepper because the cheese has enough salt and makes it taste good without much else.

made on September 29, 2010

I made brownies too.(Chocolate chunk and walnut) It was a productive day i can tell you that much.

The Safe Word is WHiskey

Whiskey Sauce Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes

This recipe was a fail. Well for the most part except for the sweet potatoes they were delicious.  I used Jack Daniel’s but I didn’t make sure it became a syrupy texture so the sauce came out watery and unappealing. I thought this sauce would taste better on a steak. Maybe I’ll try that one day..
I had a little help with this one. My father grilled the pork, where in the recipe it wanted me to cook it in a skillet. I also used pork on the bone but it called for boneless center cut pork chops. The pork came out a little dry. As for the sauce, I suggest who ever is cooking this next should be a little more patient and allow the sauce to thicken. I think it would have come out better that way.

made September 21, 2010

Let's Pay a Visit to Sally!

Salmon with Asparagus and Chive Butter Sauce
This was my second fish dish but this time I was excited to eat it. I suggest this dinner for 2-3 people because salmon is expensive. It was a healthy dish and I would make it again!! I actually did I had extra but I hadn’t cooked it. Since it’s simple to make I had it for lunch. So Delicious!!
Like I said it’s quick and easy to make but I would only make it for a couple of people. It’s an easy elegant dinner for two.
I had no substitutions of any kind. It’s steamed asparagus and salmon all at the same time. I was amazed and never heard of such a thing. I went to my local fish market (Sally’s Fish Market) and told him my story and that it was my first time working with salmon, so he had suggestions for me like baking or grilling. I used the steaming technique and it came out perfect. For those who don’t like salmon I suggest try this. I don’t go for fish because of the fishy taste but here the butter and chives makes a simple, yet tasty sauce.

made on September 16, 2010

Vegetarian meal

Chickpea Cakes with Cucumber- Yogurt Sauce

I didn’t know how to approach this meal, if you want to call it a meal. It’s really small. I used it as a side for the salmon which didn’t work because they are two totally different styles. I had to use a spice called Garam Masala and I had never heard of this in my life. It smelled like curry, so the dish has an Indian style to it. It wasn’t very good for my taste but that’s because I’m not a fan of Indian food or I just haven’t tried good Indian food yet.
On top there is a cucumber- yogurt sauce that is basically cucumbers and greek yogurt that I never heard of and apparently its good for you. BOUNUS
I would suggest this more for a small lunch. It’s a good thing that can be prepared one day and then cooked the next. My first vegetarian entrée...

made September 16, 2010

Got Sole?

Easy Stuffed Filets of Sole
Fish isn’t on the top of my menu of things I enjoy eating, but because of my goal to finish all of the meals in this book, I had to make it some day. I work at a catering hall and we serve stuffed sole often. I’ve never eaten it before and I thought it would be interesting to make.
The substitution for this meal was wheat bread for the bread crumbs instead of white bread. I also used tilapia only because we didn’t have sole in the house. I wouldn’t recommend tilapia, it was thick and short which made it hard to roll but it works. I think sole is longer and thinner making the process easier. The sauce that goes along with it kind of evaporated so each person didn’t get a good helping of it but there was enough.  It didn’t have a side (none of the recipes do) so I accompanied it with cherry tomatoes and green beans. I’m not very good at sautéing the right flavors into these vegetables. I used oil garlic and chopped red onion… Help?
I had leftovers of the meal and brought it to the head chef at work. He said it was really good and flavorful. There was lemon zest in the bread crumbs which made it taste great and fresh. After this I wanted to try all kinds of fish!

made on September 2, 2010

I'm Hungry...

Skillet Tamale Pie?
Good answer!
I created this tamale pie on August 27, 2010. I thought it looked just like a Shepard’s pie and I wasn’t too excited for the results. But when I saw that the ingredients contained jalapenos I was excited to try it. I like flavorful food so to me this meal was great with the fresh cilantro too.
It’s pretty easy to put together. I think what took the most time was the chopping, like always. In the store I couldn’t find minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo so I used ½ of a long hot pepper. It came out amazing. There was a zing to the taste but not overwhelming to the point it was annoying to eat. The recipe calls for ground beef but I used ground turkey instead. It fed about 5 people with seconds. Its good for a big crowd
I really want to make this again. I give this recipe 2 thumbs way up
I had fun making this mess with my friend and since I cooked she did the dishes. Good team effort! I used her kitchen like I did my other friend and thought "I could go kitchen to kitchen cooking for people and they can just clean up!"

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Can you come over to cook dinner?!

This was an interesting day. I started cooking out of this cookbook for the goal of completing in one year all of these recipes and learning something by the end. crazy idea to some but to me, an experience. My friend actually called me to come over just to cook. it was odd request but an oportunity to begin this crazy idea and open up the cookbook I'd just bought. So I asked what he would want to eat and he said "how about chicken parm?" I looked through the book to find the closest thing to chicken parm there was.
Parmesan Chicken with cherry tomatoe salad was really good. Basically instead of just breading the chicken and cooking it in a skillet then laying the cheese over it to melt it, adding a bed of pasta and sauce...
This chicken is breaded just like that but with the bread crumbs I mixed in grated parmesan cheese and it came out juicy. There was no sauce and instead of using cherry tomatoes I used the little yellow tomatoes. I don't know if they are called yellow cherry tomatoes but thats what I refered to them as! I would maybe add sauce for all those non-tomatoe eaters out there (myself included)
I don't have the exact date that I started this but it was in the second week of August 2010. I used my friend's kitchen and had fun :)

Birthday Dinner!

Usually on your birthday you would want everything done for you. You would want to get out of bed late or have breakfast brought to you; basically be waited on hand and foot. But not me! I wanted to have a day for me but in a way that I can have my family together enjoying food and each other's company. So I decided to cook for everyone.
I cooked Spinach stuffed chicken. I've made this dish in the past and it came out great. I've been told it was amazing. On my birthday it didn't quite come out as planned. It was a little dry. It's a great recipe, not too difficult to do, a little time consuming. (This happends alot with me because of my novice chopping abilities) Things I'm sure will come out better and be less time consuming as I cook.
I came by the recipe on when I searched for spinach and chicken. I was in the mood to have something for the most part healthy. This recipe says that you should cook the chicken in a skillet. I cooked it in a skillet when I made it for 3-4 people and it came out beautifully. But on my birthday, I cooked for about 8 people so I changed it around a bit and baked the chicken at 375degrees. I also have never used mushrooms because some people in my family don't like them. All in all its a great tasting meal!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Hello Bloggers!
My name is Christina. I've decided to start blogging about my "creations in the kitchen." I'm starting to cook because I enjoy it and the idea to blog about it came from the movie Julie and Julia. I didn't grow up watching cooking shows or I haven't really idolized a specific chef, but I want to learn and I thought cooking my way through a cookbook would be the best way to get started. I have been baking for fun. I do it any chance I get for birthdays, holidays or any special gathering my family has. I usually get complimented on my baking. This just encourages my hobby. I like to make healthy meals or find ways to make things healthier but I try to keep it flavorful and delicious at the same time so you don't know you are eating healthy.
I will post pictures and comments about the recipes I have been through. I'm using The Best Simple Recipes created by America's Test Kitchen. If you would like a recipe or have any input on other tecniques just comment and I'll get back to you. I would love to share!
I would greatly appreciate any advice anyone has towards cooking or if you would like to share experiences (good or bad) I would love read them! Trust me you will read ALL of mine.
Of course there is a deadline to completing these recipes and its August 20, 2011. That's my next birthday. I started tecnically on my birthday this year but I'm not cooking everyday. I'm going for once a week. I may cook one or two recipies in a day, depending on the amount of time I have.