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.