Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Q&A with Cara

When did you start cooking?

I started cooking when I was around 13 and there were often weeknights I had to babysit my brothers because my parents had part time jobs in the evenings. At that point, it was mostly very simple things, often from my mom's "Campbell's Classics" cookbook (believe it or not, it was not filled with cream soup-based casseroles - our favorite dishes were the tamale pie, chicken tetrazini and Cincinnati chili!) I always helped my mom with whatever cooking needed to be done for the holidays, but I really started to develop my skills and style when I moved in with my husband (then fiance) after graduating college.

Who inspires you?

Many of the bloggers out there who create such delicious-sounding dishes that are also beautiful to look at, because I really believe that food is an art, both gastronomically and visually. And I'll have to say Rachel Ray - she really does seem like an everyday girl who has made her dream of sharing food with others come true.

If you could have lessons from one chef, who would it be?

I think I'd with Bobby Flay - he really seems to know all the proper techniques very well, and I admire his use of creative flavor and texture combinations.

Favorite thing to cook/bake? Etc.

Lately I am into anything "little" - like bite size appetizers and desserts, with care taken to make sure they look special. It's a labor of love making all those little pieces, but it's something I fnd people really enjoy seeing and tasting.

What's one fear you have in the kitchen?

I'm usually very confident that my food tastes good, so I get very hung up on presentation and appearance! Especially when serving guests or preparing for company, I want everything to look as good as it tastes, and I've been known to remake things that don't look just right.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Featured Blog of the Week

Cara at Cara's Cravings

Joelen choose Cara's blog because I admire her cooking style. It's fresh, colorful, healthy and I have no doubt in my mind that her food tastes just as fabulous as they look in her blog. :)

Check out Cara's Blog

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Q & A with Joelen

When did you start cooking?

I was pretty much born & raised in the kitchen, thanks to my parents who were caterers. They've sinced retired, but through them I picked up the passion for food and cooking. As a result of helping them out in the kitchen throughout childhood and adolescence, cooking became second nature. When I was in high school, I would hold dinner parties with friends every month. It was at that point I coupled my love of cooking and entertaining - which I love to do to this day.

Who inspires you?

Anything and everything inspires me! From walking around and catching a whiff of a certain food, flipping through magazines and noticing an interesting recipe, riding public transportation and hearing ethnic languages around me... food is such an amazing medium to connect with people of all ages, backgrounds and tastes. If you pay close enough attention, you can relate food to pretty much anything and everything!

If you could have lessons from one chef, who would it be?

Julia Child. She was a pioneer for home cooks and professionals alike. I can picture an easygoing lesson with Julia full of laughs, eating and enjoying our creations together.

Favorite thing to cook/bake? Etc.

There isn't a specific dish or meal that I can call "favorite" - there's just too many dishes I love to pick just one!. Due to the exposure I've had to Asian food, its definitely my forte, but I love learning about various ethnic cuisines. Whether it be experimenting with various Indian spices to making homemade phyllo dough or just dining in an ethnic restaurant off the beaten path, I'm most interested in tying in both food and culture....

What's one fear you have in the kitchen?

The only fear I have is not having my hands to work with. Even a badly fractured wrist and a cast won't stop me from cooking! As for cooking, I'm still not sold on working with yeast. I have in the past with much success, but its not one of my preferred ingredients to work with.
What's one fear you had in the kitchen but have overcame?I was intimidated working with phyllo dough. However, after playing with it in various ways and desserts... and also most recently making it from scratch with a friend, it's something I look forward to using. In fact, I tend to have store bought phyllo dough as a staple in my freezer!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Featured Blog of the Week

Joelen at Joelen's Culinary Adventures

Jade choose Joelen's blog because I think that she does a great job of adding all her recipes and entertaining tips (rather than just a few) from her cooking events to her blog for others to view and/or use. Also, all the blog posts about her cooking group events are really interesting and great to read!

Check out Joelens blog!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Q & A with Jade

When did you start cooking?

I have always been a baker, not really a cook so much until I started graduate school in 2001. It was my first real apartment (not a dorm room :) and I started to make dinner for myself. I loved creating new things and trying out new recipes. I'm an artist, so I guess I realized that cooking was also an art and I took to it quickly. I've been into it ever since and now, I actually cook more than I bake and love it.

Who inspires you?

My mom is a great cook and I grew up knowing what good food was - we always had the holidays at my house and my mom made everything from scratch. I think what inspires me in general to cook is creating great food for my family and friends. I love hosting parties and having people over. I often send my mom home with leftovers now instead of the other way around.

If you could have lessons from one chef, who would it be?

This is a difficult question for me, since I love to take cooking lessons and would happily accept lessons with anyone that knows more than myself (plus, there are too many great chefs to choose from)! I take random classes (cooking, wine, baking) at a culinary school in New York City sometimes and I learn so much each time. I'm getting into french cooking so lessons from someone versed in basic french cooking skills would be great! I love Ina Garten's style too.

Favorite thing to cook/bake? Etc.

In the fall/winter, I love to make soups and stews/chilis. In the summer, I love to experiment with different salads and grilled food. I also love baking anything new - especially fancy cakes or individual desserts.

What's one fear you have in the kitchen?

At this time (that will likely change!), I don't really have a "fear" in the kitchen - there are things that I don't know how to do yet, for example, I have yet to cook many large pieces of meat (full turkey, roast beef, etc). I'm not scared of them :), but I worry that I'll buy this big piece of meat and then over/under cook it. I hate wasting things. I'm a bit apprehensive to make candy also - not chocolate, but sugar candy. I'm just learning the different sugar crack phases....and it is so easy to burn yourself.

What's one fear you had in the kitchen but have overcame?

I made my first roast chicken the other day! It was actually really easy. I'm such a loser that I actually had my husband take a picture of it for my "first year married" photo album (it felt like a "married" meal). I also learned how to make my own stock this year, which is also not difficult - that was really rewarding. It helps me to really use all the ingredients and scraps in the kitchen (I save all my vegetable "garbage" in the freezer to make stock) which reduces my garbage (I'm into being green :).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Featured Blog of the Week

Jade at Apples & Oranges

Katie choose Jade's blog because she always has fun fresh ideas that are simple but unique and her photography is just so awesome! I WISH i could take pictures 1/8 good as she does!

Check out Jades blog!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Q & A with Katie

When did you start cooking?

Oh goodness. I'm not sure exactly, but before I can remember. I actually have this great picture my mother took of me, where I couldn't have been more than 2 years old, standing on a stool in our old kitchen in a onesie stirring a bowl of something or other with the most "Excuse me! Trying to be professional here!" look on my face. It's hilarious. I am going to have to find that picture and post it.

Who inspires you?

Over the years it has been the various picky eaters in my life. It originally started with my younger brother, or my learning-to-cook-guinea-pig, and now my husband and sister in law. They inspire me by challenging to break out of what I like to cook and eat (healthy/high fashion/exotic ingredients) and force me to come up with good recipes that meet their various picky needs. They'd eat and love Hamburger Helper and Cream of Whatever chicken and rice if you let them. Blech. I am challenged to produce recipes with basic ingredients they love, but break them out of the mold of over-processed and prepackaged food which is no good for the body.

If you could have lessons from one chef, who would it be?

Definitely Alton Brown. I don't watch Food Network anymore, but when I used to in college (when I had time, that is)I refused to watch anyone but him. I have never liked following recipes and am subsequently horrible at it. It's bad enough I have to remember to record what I put into things and follow recipes for my blog now. Alton Brown is all about knowing the specific properties of certain foods and how they react in cooking. I can then go out and use those ingredients, maximizing their potential, in any recipe rather than just blindly following one.

Favorite thing to cook/bake? Etc.

I don't like baking so much... I have just started to this past year. I love cooking, but I am fickle. Haha. So right now my huge obsession is with braising. I am obsessed with braising any meat. That will rub off soon, I'm sure, then I will move onto something else.

What's one fear you have in the kitchen?

I read this every week and I always think, "What the heck would my answer be!??". I still don't have an answer. I love challenging myself. I have way to much pride and love to make recipes/whip up new things for company before trying them. Probably not the best idea, but I can't help it. I love cooking in bulk. Hence my catering company. :) I think my biggest fear, not so much in cooking, but in entertaining, is making things that people don't like. Only because I always ask "Is there anything you are allergic to/don't like?" before I have people over and keep grilling them about it. It never fails that I will bring up a dish or a meal or even make an appetizer and someone will say, oh yeah I don't eat such-and-such (a lot of times, olives, mushrooms, eggplant, etc). Yeah, thanks....:(

What's one fear you had in the kitchen but have overcame?

Definitely baking. I've always hated it and outsourced it. I hate the mess of it all, flour everywhere, sticky chocolate lining bowls, all the containers you need to prep. Oh, and the worst part is waiting forever for it to come out of the oven. I never saw it as hands-on enough. Well, the last straw was two years ago when our neighborhood had a cookie exchange. I had to make 12 dozen cookies and they turned out kind of blah. I'm sort of (lol - extremely) competitive and I HATED that mine weren't the best. SO I decided to start baking a lot more. I think I have come a long way and now, although I hate the time it takes, I LOVE baking and feel so rewarded when the baked goods come out of the oven fabulously.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Homegrown Gourmet

This third round of homegrown Gourmet is posted, here are the rules....

  • Anyone can play!

  • A theme will be picked by the host. Participants will make a dish that follows the theme and that somehow represents their home region- town, state, area. Representation can feature a local ingredient, be a traditional dish from your area, or be a creative twist.

  • Participants will have 3-4 weeks (host discretion) to complete their recipes and post them to their blog (or email the pics and text), and notify the host. The host will then post the results and then let everyone know via email or message board the results are up!An explanation of your dish is required; it can be a story about the local custom or ingredient, how you came about eating/ making the recipe, or an explanation about how your creative dish fits the theme.

  • Fresh and local foods are encouraged!

  • When the round is done, the host will announce their favorite dish by updating their blog. Favorite is completely subjective to the host- no one expects the host to make and taste test all the dishes, it is just something that strikes the host's fancy! The creator of the fave gets the honor of hosting the next round, if they so choose!

To check out round three please go to Columbus Foodie, the deadline is Nov. 26th.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Featured Blog of the Week

Katie at Good Things Catered

Candace choose Katies blog because I love her cooking style as it’s very health conscious and she uses fresh ingredients. She and I have a lot in common with our personal preferences when it comes to food. We have the same straightforward views on Hummus, and Katie also taught me how to make real Lebanese Tabbouleh… for that I will be ever grateful!

Please check out Katies blog and check back on Wednesday for a question and answer with the chef herself.

Q & A Candace

When did you start cooking?

I really started cooking when I was in college. My mother is not much of a cook... She does make one seriously fabulous egg roll, but she never baked birthday cakes or honestly baked anything when I was growing up. When I moved out on my own, I really cultivated my love of cooking and developed my palate. That is what led me to Culinary School.

Who inspires you?

Since I didn't come from a family that cooked, I have no idea where I got my love of cooking and eating. So my inspiration has come from chefs in the limelight. I love Anthony Bourdain, as he is willing to try anything. I'd like to think I would try anything, but Bourdain is definitely more daring than myself when it comes to food!

If you could have lessons from one chef, who would it be?

Hands down, Thomas Keller. He is the Dan Marino, nay… the Michael Jordan of the fine dining world. I've made several of his recipes, and they are so delicate and amazing... just fantastic. He has this knack for taking the most basic ingredients and transforming it into edible art. We're planning a trip to the west coast next year and if I have any say, the timing will be dependent on getting rezzies at his restaurant French Laundry. My (very close) 2nd runner up would be Charlie Trotter.

Favorite thing to cook/bake? Etc

Pastries. The fancier, the better. I also love to make breads... there is just nothing like a fresh loaf of bread, right from the oven. I enjoy cooking in general, but my food passion definitely lies in baking. Unfortunately, breads and pastries are so fattening, I try to limit what I bake. When I do bake something, I do either half or a quarter of the recipe.

Whats one fear you have in the kitchen?

Cutting myself. I was in my 2nd quarter of culinary school and cut the very tip of my finger off. It was in a particular class in which the chef instructor was adamant about no cursing in the classroom. I ran up to him and screamed... I cut the $h%#@ out of my finger. LOL! Needless to say, he wasn’t upset that I cursed in front of him. It was the most painful thing I'd ever imagined. It made me seriously doubt whether I had a high enough pain threshold to have children one day! :)

Whats one fear you had in the kitchen but have overcame?

Broiling fish... I learned how to broil in a professional kitchen, under a salamander. It gets very hot, and broils extremely quickly. You basically broil for just a minute or two. Usually, you would cook 80% in an oven, and then just brown under the broiler. When I tried broiling fish at home, it was different. Sometimes the fish was raw inside, and beautifully browned outside. Other times my fish would be rubbery and have no browning. One time… I’m embarrassed to admit, I actually had flames shooting out of my oven! Apparently that was just a smidgen to long. After that episode, I avoided broiling for years. I've recently started experimenting again, and am proud to say I have mastered it. Now I prefer broiling my fish over any other cooking method.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Featured Blog of the Week

Candace at i shot the chef

Shawnda choose Candaces blog because "I Shot The Chef" is food art at some of its very best. Each dish is beautifully cooked, styled, and photographed. Everything about Candace's blog says, "fresh," which is why her blog has permanently claimed a position on my favorites list.

Please check out Candaces blog and check back on Wednesday for a question and answer with the chef herself.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Question and Answer with Shawnda

When did you start cooking?

I started cooking in my early teens out of necessity. My mom went back to college to finish her degree and my dad... well, my dad's abilities in the kitchen really shine through at the holidays, but his everyday stuff - not so much. We could only tolerate beans & weenies or Spaghetti O's for so long :) As for baking, I grew up covered in three kinds of flour. Working at my parents' bakery was a great way to earn gas money and to use the car, even if it was only to drive a short ways to pick up a 50lb bag of pastry flour. Getting up on Saturday and Sunday mornings at 4:30, that part I could have done without.

Who inspires you?

Grams. To experience my grandmother baking at Christmas is such a treat. I affectionately refer to her as "The OM," (The Original Martha). She seemingly glides around the kitchen, effortlessly tending to no less than 3 batches of Christmas candy at once. She makes the "controlled chaos" look so easy. She peeks at the gingerbread baking in the oven, scoots a errant great-grandchild out of the kitchen, stirs the mixture for fuzzy fingers (her family-famous cookie), and tells a story about my great-grandparents or growing up on the farm with 10 siblings. All while making peanut butter patties.

When I have three dishes going at once, the chaos is slightly less controlled: timers going off, pots boiling over, and food-covered spoons splattering on the floor. All while unknowingly sporting a big ol' smear of cocoa across half of my face.

If you could have lessons from one chef, who would it be?

Rebecca Rather, aka "The Pastry Queen." She spent her pastry chef years in my hometown of Houston before she eventually ditched the big city to open a bakery-cafe in small-town Texas. I am absolutely smitten with her no-fuss Americana approach to cooking and baking - fresh ingredients prepared simply with no-fuss recipes. Plus, I can't think of anything that sounds better than ditching the big city and opening a small bakery and cafe in a sleepy little town in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.
Favorite thing to cook/bake? Etc

I love to bake bread. Sweet, savory, quick, or uber-involved - the yeastier, the better. There's something about the notion of baking homemade bread that makes me feel incredibly domestic and old-fashioned (you know, as I sit at the kitchen island with a glass of wine surfing the Internet on my Mac while the dough is kneading away in my KitchenAid mixer).

Whats one fear you have in the kitchen?

Undercooked meat. I've sent many a slab of meat to a rubbery, over-cooked grave because I'm terrified of serving under-cooked meat. Our new oven has a temperature probe on it and I'm finding that it's incredibly therapeutic to use.

Whats one fear you had in the kitchen but have overcame?

It's embarrassing - mousse. I don't think I was really that educated on what mousse really was or how incredibly simple it was to make. I ignored it for years. I whipped up (literally) my first batch this year - a dark chocolate mousse spiked with a little Chambord. Airy, light, and fabulously easy.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Featured Blog of The Week

Shawnda (duchess281) of Confections of a Foodie Bride

Elly choose Shawnda's blog because she loves the variety in it. She has some fantastic looking appetizers, main courses desserts...pretty much anything you want, you will find. Her pictures are fantastic and I really enjoy her writing style. She tells great stories before moving onto the food--and I think sharing the stories and other things associated with the food is just as important as sharing the cooking itself!

Check out Shawnda's Blog!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Question and Answer with Elly

When did you start cooking?

I started cooking around the age of 10. Acouple nights a week, my mom would be working late and I would often be on my own for dinner. I would start making recipes from the sides of pasta boxes (like macaroni bakes) and experiment with things like that. I lived a block away from the grocery store so I could always pick up extra ingredients. I got a lot more daring and interested in cooking when I was in college, though.

Who inspires you?

I am the stereotypical Greek. My whole family is involved in the restaurant biz! They all inspire me to some extent. I would say my grandpa is my biggest inspiration. He came here from Greece and built a great, sucessful restaurant...with the best beef stew made every Monday :)

If you could have lessons from one chef, who would it be?

Probably Anthony Bourdain. I absolutely love him, and he is a trained chef who has traveled the world experiencing new foods and cooking techniques.

Favorite thing to cook/bake?

My favorite thing to cook is probably soup. There are a million different combinations you can make and there are few things more gratifying and comforting than homemade soup. I don't bake all that often but I think muffins would be my favorite thing to bake.

Whats one fear you have in the kitchen?

Yeast! I definitely plan on making my first bread this fall/winter though! Whats one fear you had in the kitchen but have overcame? Hmm, egg tempering. Sounds so silly but when I first started tempering eggs to make things like avgolemono (lemon rice) soup, I would end up with soup and scrambled eggs. :)

Monday, October 15, 2007

WC Featured Blog of the Week

Ally choose Elly of Elly Says Opa! For “Blog of the Week” for a few reasons. First of all, she frequently updates with mouth-watering recipes that I have often put on my “to try” list. Her presentations are eye catching and beautifully put together. The variety of her recipes on her blog also motivated me in my decision. Her posts not only include diverse cooking techniques, but the range of ethnic creations, and regional dishes are intriguing. The sides and delectable desserts are a bonus when one is looking for recipe ideas. Lastly, Elly has participated in a few blogging events, which I have been meaning to do, but I am to sluggish to attempt. I check her blog frequently, and have got numerous ideas for recipes of my own. So for her outstanding blogging effort along with her skill in the kitchen, Elly is more than worthy for blog of the week!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Question and Answer with Ally

When did you start cooking? I started cooking when I was about 5-6. I used to make little sandwiches for the attendees of my tea parties especially my special guests (my brothers). I loved to be in the kitchen to cook with my mother whenever she would allow me to join in. When I was 10 my mother took night classes, and that is where I learned many techniques and recipes by trial and error.

Who inspires you? My mother, father, and grandfather (Jiddy) are my cooking inspirations. Growing up, my mother's lasagna was famous in the neighborhood. She was always freezing portions of it and giving it away to our neighbors. My father and my grandfather have brought an ethnic influence and a grilling expertise into my life.

If you could have lessons from one chef, who would it be? I grew up in New Orleans, and I love the food. With his experience and knowledge of many types of cuisine, I would choose Emeril.

Favorite thing to cook/bake? I love to cook/bake it all. However, I do not eat many baked goods. I just don't have a sweet tooth. When I do bake, I give the goodies away.
I will say that the one thing my friends and family request over and over are empanadas. I really love making them because they are so versatile. With the right fillings, they can please anyone!

Whats one fear you have in the kitchen? Over cooking a prime cut of meat, what a waste!

Whats one fear you had in the kitchen but have overcame? Making a gumbo roux. It took lots of practice and a whole lot of patience.

Monday, October 8, 2007

WC Featured Blog of the Week

Ally of Culinary Infatuation

Chelley chose Ally because of the wide array of foods that are represented in the blog. I love being able to find breakfast foods, casual dinners, baked goods, ethnic food, and much more all in once place. The pictures are great and the instructions are a huge help!

Check out Allys blog, browse through all her wonderful recipes and leave a few comments if you have time.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Homegrown Gourmet

This first round of homegrown Gourmet is posted, here are the rules....
  • Anyone can play!
  • A theme will be picked by the host. Participants will make a dish that follows the theme and that somehow represents their home region- town, state, area. Representation can feature a local ingredient, be a traditional dish from your area, or be a creative twist.
  • Participants will have 3-4 weeks (host discretion) to complete their recipes and post them to their blog (or email the pics and text), and notify the host. The host will then post the results and then let everyone know via email or message board the results are up!
    An explanation of your dish is required; it can be a story about the local custom or ingredient, how you came about eating/ making the recipe, or an explanation about how your creative dish fits the theme.
  • Fresh and local foods are encouraged!
  • When the round is done, the host will announce their favorite dish by updating their blog. Favorite is completely subjective to the host- no one expects the host to make and taste test all the dishes, it is just something that strikes the host's fancy! The creator of the fave gets the honor of hosting the next round, if they so choose!

To check out round one please go to Beans Bistro, the deadline is Sept. 17th.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Platinum Chef Challenge Round 5

The Platinum Chef Challenge has been posted on Cara's Blog, here is the link if you would like to participate.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Question and Answer with Chelley

Since Chelley was the first FBOTW, I thought it was fair she answer the questions for the FBOTW too! Thank you Chelley!

When did you start cooking?

I started cooking about 3 years ago, when Nick and I got engaged. I had done a lot of baking before that, starting when I was a teenager, but I had never been very interested in cooking. Once we got engaged I figured I needed to learn how to cook like a good wife so I started with some basics and have been building from there. I have always loved to bake but have made myself love cooking as well ;-)

Who inspires you?

Although I cook somewhat differently than them, my mom and grandma are my kitchen inspirations. My mom always made sure we ate dinner together as a family each night of the week. She loves trying different things and is a great cook! My grandma is famous for her Sunday\ndinners and homestyle Italian cooking. Every Sunday she cooks enough for an(Italian) army, feeding whoever stops by to eat (usually our family and my aunt and uncle, and cousins). Her food just tastes like home and our family has been able to create many cherished memories surround it

If you could have lessons from one chef, who would it be?

I would have to choose Giada De Laurentiis. Being Italian and growing up eating traditional Italian foods, I love watching Giada create classic Italian dishes that are sometimes healthy alternatives, and “dressed up”.

Favorite thing to cook/bake? Etc

My favorite dish to cook is Dirty Risotto from Giada de Laurentiis – it consists of risotto with Italian sausage, mushrooms, red pepper, and onions. It is such a hearty and warm dish; I have made it for company a number of times and it consistently gets rave reviews.

My favorite things to bake are Christmas cookies! I absolutely love the Christmas holiday and baking traditional Christmas cookies puts me in a great mood – I love to dedicate an entire day to baking Christmas cookies and do it while either listening to Christmas carols or watching a marathon of Christmas movies, such as National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Elf, A Christmas Story, Rudolph, Charlie Brown Christmas, etc.

Whats one fear you have in the kitchen?

That I will one day slice a chunk of finger off! Okay, food related fears, right? I am afraid of any type of dessert that involves custard consisting of raw eggs – I am always petrified that I won’t heat them well enough and will poison the people that eat it. Therefore, I don’t really tackle desserts of this kind.

Whats one fear you had in the kitchen but have overcame?

I never thought I would be able to make bread from scratch. Well, GOOD bread, that is. However, I have made a number of different yeast breads this year and my fear is officially gone! I have been increasingly successful with each attempt and will whip together a loaf of bread or batch of rolls without thinking twice. Now I just need to find a good whole wheat soft sandwich bread recipe to make for Nick and our days of store bought bread are over!

Friday, August 17, 2007

WC Featured Blog for Week of August 20th- August 26th

Chelley of Sugar and Spice

I chose Chelleys blog this week because I have been drooling over her Samoas® Brownies. They look wonderful and I can't wait to find a time to make them. Check out Chelleys blog, browse through all her wonderful recipes and leave a few comments if you have time.

Feature Blog of the Week

After polling everyone on the WC board it sounds like a lot of people are interested in a featured blog of the week so here is what I think will work best.

There will be a new WC blog featured each week, if you would like to be added to the WC Blog list and considered for future featured blogs please whatscookingblog@gmail.com.

The rules for the featured blog of the week....

1. The blog author must be a member of The Nest

2. The blog must be updated atleast once a week with a food related post

3. Once a blog is featured it will be two months before that blog is considered to be featured again.

I will kick off the fun by choosing the first featured blog of the week and provide the reason(s) why I decided to feature that blog. The chosen blog author will be able to bask in the glory of being featured all week as well as possibly gaining more traffic to their blog. By Sunday of each week the current featured blog will whatscookingblog@gmail.com their selection for the next weeks featured blog.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Jay's Signature Pizza Crust

Jay's Signature Pizza Crust
(Source: Allrecipes)

2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1-1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F / 45 degrees C)
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3-1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the water, and let sit 10 minutes.

2. Stir the salt and oil into the yeast solution. Mix in 2-1/2 cups of the flour.

3. Turn dough out onto a clean, well floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth. Let the dough rise until doubled in size; approximately 1 hour. Punch down the dough and form a tight ball. Allow the dough to relax a little before rolling out.

4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. If you are baking the dough on a pizza stone, you may place your toppings on the dough, and bake immediately. If you are baking your pizza in a pan, lightly oil the pan, and let the dough rise 15-20 minutes before topping and baking it.

5. Bake pizza in preheated oven, until the cheese and crust are golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.

**Makes 2 large pizzas

Dirty Risotto

Dirty Risotto
(Source: Food Network)

5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 T. butter2 oz. pancetta, chopped
6 oz. Italian sausage, casing removed
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
4 oz. button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 1/2 c. Arborio rice
3/4 c. dry white wine
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 T. chopped fresh Italian parsley

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Cover the broth and keep warm over low heat.

2. In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sausage and saute until golden brown about 5 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper and mushrooms and saute until tender,s craping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup of the simmering brother and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bit and the mixture is creamy, about 25-30 minutes total.

4. Remove from heat. Stir in 3/4 of the parmesan. Transfer the risotto to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the parsley and remaining parmesan and serve immediately.

Better Then Sex Cake

Better Then Sex Cake
(Source: Laneyu)

1 box chocolate cake mix - i used triple chocolate
1 bag chocolate chips
1 jar caramel sauce
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tub cool whip
1 bag heath bar bits

1. Prepare cake mix as directed on box.

2. Add half the bag of chocolate chips, pour in cake pan and top with remaining chocolate chips.

3. Bake as direction on the box.

4. Mix the caramel and the condensed milk together in a bowl. When the cake comes out of the oven, poke holes in the cake with a straw and then pour the caramel mix over the top and let sit until cool. Top with coolwhip and the candy pieces.

5. Chill before serving.

Optional: For the frosting, I take a big tub of cool whip and beat it together with an 8 oz block of softened cream cheese...makes it even better!This cake is great as leftovers (keep in fridge)...seems it gets better and better each day! Stays so moist!

Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate"
(Source: Hersheys)

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 10 to 12 servings.

VARIATIONS:ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost. BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting
(Source: Hersheys)

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Melt butter.

2. Stir in cocoa.

3. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.

4. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Spicy Garlic Lime Pasta

Spicy Garlic Lime Pasta (Source: Krashed24)

1 cup chicken broth
1.5 tbls lime juice
1 tbls corn starch
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried parsley
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite size pieces)
1 tbls butter
Few drizzles of olive oil
8 oz pasta (I used whole wheat rotini)
1-2 cups broccoli florets
Optional - Parmesan cheese for topping

1. Bring pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. During the last 5 minutes of pasta cook time add the broccoli into the boiling water. Drain.

2. Mix together all the sauce ingredients (chicken broth through parsley) and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, heat butter and olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add bite size chicken pieces into heated pan. Cook chicken until no longer pink. Pour the sauce ingredients into the pan with the chicken and bring to a simmer. Let simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened.

4. Toss cooked broccoli and pasta with the chicken and sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired and serve.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Crock Pot Lasagna

Crock-pot Lasanga
(Source: About.com)

1 lb. ground beef
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
1 large jar spaghetti sauce (such as Ragu in the 1 lb. 10 ounce jar)
1 package (8 ounces) no-boil lasagna noodles
16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1 lb. ricotta cheese
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan/Romano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Brown the beef, onion, and garlic in a little oil in a frying pan. Drain off any grease.

2. Add the spaghetti sauce into the browned meat mixture. Mix well.

3. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, milk, and egg.

4. Beat until thoroughly mixed and smooth. Then mix in the mozzarella cheese and the grated cheese, so that all the cheeses are combined.

5. Grease the slow cooker/Crock Pot with some vegetable shortening on the bottom and sides.

6. Put about 1/4 of the meat and sauce mixture in the bottom of the slow cooker/Crock Pot. Put a layer of noodles on top of that (break or cut them if needed). Put about 1/3 of the cheese mixture on top of that. Then repeat with sauce, noodles, cheese for another 2 layers. Top with meat sauce. Cook on low for 4-6 hours or until noodles are tender.

Friday, July 6, 2007

WC Platinum Chef Challenge

Round 3 of the Platinum Chef is post on Bensbabes blog. Check it out and participate if you can.

This round will be up until July 20th.

Here is a link to the challenge... Round 3

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Baking Recipe of the Week

This recipe will be the recipe of the week from 7/5 until 7/20. Hope that gives everyone more time to make and enjoy the recipe!

Layers of Love Chocolate Brownies
(Source: VeryBestBaking)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup baking coco
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut in pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 large eggs, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup white chocolate morsels
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease 8-inch-square baking pan.

2. Combine flour, cocoa and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla extract; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Reserve 3/4 cup batter. Spread remaining batter into prepared baking pan. Sprinkle nuts and white morsels over batter. Drizzle caramel topping over top. Beat remaining egg and reserved batter in same large bowl until light in color. Stir in semi-sweet morsels. Spread evenly over caramel topping.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares.

Happy Baking!

Cooking Recipe of the Week

This recipe will be the recipe of the week from 7/5 until 7/20. Hope that gives everyone more time to make and enjoy the recipe!

Smoky Grilled Butterflied Chicken
(Source: Martha Stewart)

1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pounds), rinsed

1. Combine vinegar, oil, garlic, paprika, and salt in a nonreactive baking dish or large resealable plastic bag.

2. Remove backbone from chicken using kitchen shears. Place chicken, breast side up, on cutting board, with legs extended on both sides. Press firmly on breastbone to break it and flatten chicken. Add to marinade. Cover dish or seal bag, and refrigerate at least 4 hours (or overnight), turning occasionally.

3. Preheat grill to medium. (If you are using a charcoal grill, coals are ready when you can hold your hand 5 inches above grill for just 5 or 6 seconds.) Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Place chicken, skin side down, on grill. Close cover, and grill 15 minutes. Flip chicken, and close cover. Grill until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the breast registers 165 degrees, about 20 minutes more.

Happy Cooking

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

ROTW Questions

Please help me make this site everything you want to see!!!

If you have any thoughts or suggestions on what you would like to see on this blog. Please e-mail me at whatscookingblog@gmail.com

Vote for Next Week's Recipes

Please vote for next weeks recipes of the week. I am going to start posting recipes every two weeks until we have more input for recipes.

Voting is over for this week, please check back in 2 weeks.

Baking Recipe of the Week

Chocolate Carmel Brownies
Layers of Love Chocolate Brownies
Chocolate Cake

Cooking Recipe of the Week

Short Ribs
Smoky Grilled Chicken

Monday, July 2, 2007

Wagon Wheel Pasta Salad

Southweest Wagon Wheel Pasta Salad
(Source: Family Recipe of BensBabe823)

8 ounces wagon wheel macaroni, uncooked
1 (15 ounce) can black beans
1 (9 ounce) package frozen corn, thawed
1 cup salsa
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups tortilla chips, crushed
1 avocado, peeled, chopped


1/2 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 large garlic cloves, minced

1. In medium bowl, combine all dressing ingredients; mix well. Set aside.

2. Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain cooked pasta; rinse with cold water until cool.

3. In large bowl, combine beans, corn, salsa, tomatoes and cilantro. Add cooked pasta and dressing to bean mixture; toss until well coated. Stir in half each of the cheese and tortilla chips.

4. Place salad on large serving platter or in large serving bowl.

5. Top with remaining half of cheese; garnish with remaining chips and avocado.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Baking Recipe of the Week

Lemon Spring Tart
(Source: Very Best Baking)

Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 can (14 oz.) Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 to 1 1/2 cups sliced fresh fruit and/or berries

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray 9- or 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar in medium bowl; press onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 5 minutes.

3. Beat sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese in large mixer bowl until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and lemon peel. Pour over crust; gently smooth top.BAKE for 28 to 30 minutes or until filling is set. Cool to room temperature; refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

4. Arrange fruit as desired over tart. Remove rim of pan; slice into wedges.

Happy Baking Ladies!!

Cooking Recipe of the Week

Parmesan Chicken and Rice
(Source: Cooking Light)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms
3/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup uncooked instant rice
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add the onion, garlic, thyme, and mushrooms; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Add chicken; sauté 4 minutes or until the chicken is lightly browned. Add wine, salt, and pepper; cook 3 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates.

3. Stir in rice and broth. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

4. Stir in cheese and parsley.

Happy Cooking Ladies!!

Chicken Stuffed Shells

Chicken Stuffed Shells

15 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
2 teaspoons oil
2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 ounces cooked chicken
1(15 ounce) container fat free ricotta cheese
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 (28 ounce) can low fat marinara sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp parsley
Parmesan cheese for topping

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Spray large baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

3. Cook pasta shells according to directions and drain.

4. Boil chicken and shred.

5. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.

6. Combine chicken and garlic, cook for 3-5 minutes

7. Remove from heat and stir in ricotta, breadcrumbs, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

8. Spread 1/2 cup sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.

9. Fill cooked shells with chicken mixture and place filled sides up in baking dish.

10. Pour remaining sauce over shells.

11. Bake covered with foil for 15-20 minutes, remove foil and continue baking until filling is lightly browned.

12. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

CCC aka Cream Cheese Chicken

Cream Cheese Chicken
(Source: MaryEllen)

3 chicken breasts, trimmed and kept whole or cut into strips or chunks
1 can chicken broth, separated
4-8 cloves garlic
red pepper flakes
4 oz cream cheese
1.5 tbs flour
2 tsp white wine

Optional: chopped red and green peppers or 1 chopped jalapeno

1. Put chicken in large pan with a little bit of olive oil

2. Add red pepper flakes and pressed garlic

3. After 1-2 min, add ¾ can chicken broth and white wine; add the chopped peppers at this time if you are using them

4. Bring to a boil then simmer 20-25 min until chicken is cooked- Remove chicken and place in a covered dish; keep warm

5. Mix flour with remaining broth and add to pan; mix

6. Add cream cheese, mix until thick and bubbly

Lemon Spaghetti

Lemon Spaghetti
(Source: Food Network)

1 pound spaghetti
2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the oil, Parmesan, and lemon juice in a large bowl to blend.

2. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the lemon sauce, and the reserved cooking liquid, adding 1/4 cup at a time as needed to moisten. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon zest and chopped basil.

**Most ladies, thought 3 lemons was too many, maybe start with 1 or 2.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Vote for Next Week's Recipes

Voting is over for this week please check back next week.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What Did You Think of Last Week's Recipes?

Please vote for last weeks recipes???

Cooking Recipe of the Week

Orzo Salad
(Source: Cooking Light)

3 cups hot cooked orzo (about 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice-shaped pasta)
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced

1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, and toss well to coat. Cover bowl and chill for 1 hour.

CALORIES 213(27% from fat); FAT 6.4g (sat 2.2g,mono 3.1g,poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 7.4g; CHOLESTEROL 10mg; CALCIUM 71mg; SODIUM 305mg; FIBER 2.1g; IRON 2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 31.3g

Happy Cooking

Baking Recipe of the Week

This weeks baking recipe was actually a close second to last weeks, so I decided to use it as the recipe of the week... ENJOY! Buttery Pecan Cookies
(Source: William-Sonoma)

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1. In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla. Using an electric mixer, beat the mixture on medium speed until it is smooth. Turn off the mixer a few times so you can scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the flour and nuts. Continue mixing until the dough looks like moist pebbles, then turn off the mixer.

2. Gently squeeze the dough together with your hands. When the dough comes together in a mass, place it on a large piece of plastic wrap. Using your hands, shape it into a log 10 inches long and about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the log in the plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.

3. Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line 3 baking sheets with aluminum foil.

4. Unwrap the dough and place it on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into slices 1/4 inch thick. Arrange the slices about 1 inch apart on the foil-lined baking sheets. Place 1 baking sheet in the oven and bake the cookies until their edges are golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes. Using oven mitts, remove the baking sheet from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the second and then the third baking sheets.

5. Lift the cooled cookies off the baking sheets with your fingers. Store the cookies in an airtight container. Makes about 40 cookies.
Happy Baking!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Next Weeks Recipes

Voting is over for this week, please check back next week.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Oreo Truffles

Oreo Truffles
(Source: Kraft)

1 pkg. (1 lb., 2 oz.) OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, divided
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted

1. CRUSH 9 of the cookies to fine crumbs in food processor; reserve for later use. (Cookies can also be finely crushed in a resealable plastic bag using a rolling pin.) Crush remaining 36 cookies to fine crumbs; place in medium bowl. Add cream cheese; mix until well blended. Roll cookie mixture into 42 balls, about 1-inch in diameter.

2. DIP balls in chocolate; place on wax paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover chocolate can be stored at room temperature for another use.) Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs.

3. REFRIGERATE until firm, about 1 hour. Store leftover truffles, covered, in refrigerator.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Recipes of the Week

The votes are in, the recipes for the week of June 11th. Because of the close amount of votes for the cheesecake and cookies, the cookies will be next weeks baking recipe of the week.

The easiest way to do this I think, is to make the recipe when you like, changing what ingredients you like, adding what you like etc. Then make a comment in this blog with the changes you made and a link to your blog (if you have one), and if people want to read your recipe exactly they can. Also, please save the above picture and put it in your blog with the recipe, it will be an easy way to track the recipes. Happy Cooking and Baking to everyone!

Cooking Recipe:

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomato, and Cheese
(Source: Cooking Light)

1 (1-pound) package uncooked ziti (short tube-shaped pasta)
1 pound hot turkey Italian sausage links
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 (14.5-ounce) cans petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Cooking spray
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded fresh mozzarella cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain the pasta, and set aside.

3. Remove casings from sausage. Cook sausage, onion, and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil.

4. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Combine cooked pasta, sausage mixture, and basil. Place half of the pasta mixture in a 4-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Top with half of mozzarella and half of Parmesan. Repeat layers. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

8 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)
Nutritional Information
CALORIES 413(26% from fat); FAT 11.8g (sat 6.1g,mono 2.2g,poly 1g); PROTEIN 24.1g; CHOLESTEROL 49mg; CALCIUM 265mg; SODIUM 941mg; FIBER 4.5g; IRON 7.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 53g

Baking Recipe:

Chocolate Caramel Nut Cheesecake
(Source: Allrecipes)

3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon white sugar
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
3 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 (2.16 ounce) bars chocolate-coated caramel-peanut nougat candy, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, graham cracker crumbs and 1 tablespoon sugar. Press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.

3. In a large bowl, cream the 3/4 cup of sugar and cream cheese together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Stir in chopped candy bar, and pour into baked crust.

4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 minutes. Let cool and carefully remove the springform pans side.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

WC Platinum Chef Challenge

Here is how it will work:

*Current host will choose 5 ingredients for the challenge

*Participants must create a meal using those ingredients

*The meal can consist of 1 or 2 dishes - so you can use all the ingredients in one recipe, or make two. Ex. main dish + side, appetizer + main dish, main dish + dessert, etc. But, if more than one dish is created, each dish must use at least two of the ingredients (and, any ingredient may be repeated and used in both dishes if desired).

*You can add whatever other ingredients you like

*The event will run for two weeks at a time*When you've decided upon and prepared your dishes, please post pictures and recipes in your blog, link to this post, and send an email to platinumchefchallenge@gmail.com. (if you don't have a blog, please send pictures and recipes anyway!)

This months WC Platinum Chef host is BensBabe823, you can go there for details for this months challenge.

Good luck eveyrthing

Next Weeks Recipe

Votes are over for this week, please check back next week.

Soft Pretzels

Soft Pretzels (double Batch)
(Source: Krashed24)

* You can make the dough up to 24 hours in advance, just cover the bowl and store in refrigerator.

* These also freeze very well. Just pop them into the microwave for a few seconds to reheat.

* This recipe will yield 20-24 shaped pretzels depending on the size you make them.

1/8 cup hot water
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/3 warm water
1/3 cup brown sugar
4+ cups flour
Coarse kosher salt
Baking soda Butter or shortening (to generously grease cookie sheets)

1. In a large bowl mix together hot water and yeast until the yeast dissolves. Stir in the warm water and brown sugar and stir until the brown sugar dissolves.

2. Slowly add 4 cups of flour, stirring constantly. Contuine stirring until the mixture is smooth and does not stick to the sides of the bowl.

3. Lightly flour counter. Dip your hands into extra flour. Knead the dough until it is stretchy and smooth. (Push it down and away from you with the palms of your hands, turning the dough as you work)

4. Grease cookie sheets generously with butter or shortening. Sprinkle greased cookie sheet(s) with kosher salt. Preheat oven to 475. (It is very important that you grease the cookie sheets very well)

5. Using liquid measuring cup fill a large saucepan at least 1/2 full of water. For each 1 cup of water, add 1 tbls baking soda.

6. Divide the dough into equal sized pieces. Using the following 4 steps shape each dough ball into a pretzel shape...

1)Roll the dough into a rope 14" long and as thick as your thumb. Bend the dough into a U shape. (if you have trouble rolling the dough into a rope slightly wet your hands and try again).

2) Cross one end of the rope over the other one. The ropes should cross about three inches from the tips.

3) Twist the crossed ends, making a full turn. Fold the ends back, towards the middle of the U.

4) Open the ends slightly to form a pretzel shape. Press the ends into the dough firmly.

7. Bring water into saucepan to a gentle boil (not to many bubbles)

8. Use pancake turner to lower each pretzel into the saucepan. Count slowly to 30. Then lift the pretzel onto the greased and salted cookie sheet (shaking off excess water back into the saucepan). Repeat until all the pretzels are done.

9. Sprinkle some kosher salt on top of the pretzels and put them in preheated oven. Bake for 8 minutes or until the pretzels are golden.

10. ENJOY!!!!!

**You can also make pretzel sticks with this recipe. Instead of rolling dough into pretzel shapes just roll into 2-3" long ropes a little thicker than your thumb.

Variation Recipes

Garlic Parmesan Pretzels Add 4-6 cloves pressed garlic and 2/3 cup parmesan cheese into the liquid ingredients before adding the flour.

Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Pretzels Add 4-6 chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tsp basil and 2 tsp parm cheese to the liquid ingredients before adding in the flour

Basic Blondies

Basic Blondies
(Source: Bakingblonde)

8 T. butter, melted
1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla or 1/2 tsp. almond extract
pinch salt
1 c. flour

Butter an 8x8" pan. Mix melted butter with brown sugar-beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla. Add salt, stir in flour. Mix in any additions (some ideas below). Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until set in the middle. Cool on rack before cutting.

Add in ideas:
1/2 to 1 c. chocolate chips or butterscotch chips
1/2 tsp mint extract in addition to, or in the place of vanilla extract
1/2 c. chopped nuts, chopped up candy bars

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs
(Source: Cookinglight)

2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Cooking spray
6 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons cider vinegar

1. Preheat broiler.

2. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat. Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side.

3. Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well. Remove chicken from oven; brush 1/4 cup honey mixture on chicken. Broil 1 minute. Remove chicken from oven and turn over. Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture. Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done.


Best Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie
(Source: Allrecipes)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Giada's Balsamic Chicken

Balsamic Chicken Drumettes
(Source: Giada De Laurentiis)

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
5 sprigs of rosemary
5 garlic cloves, halved
10 to 12 chicken drumsticks
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Combine the balsamic, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, rosemary sprigs, and garlic cloves, in a large, re-sealable plastic bag. Shake and squeeze the contents of the bag to dissolve the honey and the brown sugar. Add the chicken drumsticks to the bag and seal with as little air as possible in the bag. Place in the refrigerator and marinate for 2 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

3. Place the chicken drumsticks on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake until the skin is caramelized and very dark in spots, about 30 to 35 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, place the marinade in a small saucepan. Bring the marinade to a boil (in order to kill bacteria). Reduce the heat to simmer and cook over low heat until thick, about 15 minutes. Reserve.

5. Use a pastry brush to brush some of the cooked marinade on the cooked chicken. Place the chicken on a serving platter. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and the chopped parsley.

Cook's note: I like the rosemary and garlic flavors in the background. Brushing the cooked drumettes with the reduced marinade helps the flavors along. Also, re-moistening helps the parsley and the seeds to adhere.

Garlic Cheddar Chicken

Garlic Cheddar Chicken
(Source: Allrecipes)

1/2 cup butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - pounded thin

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, and cook the garlic until tender, about 5 minutes.

3. In a shallow bowl, mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Cheddar cheese, parsley, oregano, pepper, and salt.

4. Dip each chicken breast in the garlic butter to coat, then press into the bread crumb mixture.

5. Arrange the coated chicken breasts in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Drizzle with any remaining butter and top with any remaining bread crumb mixture.

6. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

Super Sugar Cookies

Super Sugar Cookies
(Nestie: Joelen&Louis)


3/4 cup margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

1. Cream margarine and sugar well.

2. Add vanilla and eggs; combine well.

3. In separate bowl, sift the baking powder, salt and flour. Add to wet ingredients slowly until thoroughly combined.

4. Cookie dough must be chilled until firm, or overnight.

5. Remove dough from fridge and roll out to a 1/4-inch thickness.

6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

7. With cookie cutters or rim of drinking glass, cut out cookies.

8. Place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, depending on oven. Check often to prevent over cooking or burning. Cool on baking rack when done.

9. Meanwhile, prepare frosting


1 teaspoon real vanilla
1 stick real butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon cream or whole milk

10. Cream butter, milk and vanilla together.

11. Slowly add powdered sugar to butter until desired consistency. If you'd like, add liquid food coloring for festive cookies

12. When cookies are cooled, slather this heavenly frosting. For more texture and color, press the top of the cookie in sprinkles, colored sugar or just eat plain!

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Source: Nestie joelen&louis)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (3.4 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix (any kind of instant pudding could be used)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside.In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips.Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown.

Crack Dip AKA Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip

4 boiled chicken breasts
8 oz. Franks Red Hot
8 oz. Ranch Salad Dressing
8 oz. crumbled Bleu Cheese
8 oz. shredded Cheddar Cheese
16 oz Cream Cheese

Mix all ingredients, bake at 325 for 40 minutes. Serve with celery and tortilla chips.

A Starter Poll

This blog was created as place of reference for a weekly recipe from the nest, What's Cooking Forum. It was bounced around a cooking and baking idea, or just one or the other, vote for which you would prefer.