Thursday, January 22, 2009

008: An actual Chef?

It looks like I'll be able to actually use the title of "Chef" rather than just a "pampered" Chef! Well, it will take a few years, but I'm planning on going to culinary school starting this spring or fall. So look forward to more tips and tricks from a chef-in-training!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

007: Lasagna Rolls

Here's a new idea for lasagna! I tried this out the other night and it really came out tasty.

Get your favorite recipe for lasagna, or just follow the one on the box of lasagna noodles. Cook the noodles as directed, and mix up whatever cheese filling you're going to put in the center. I used a carton of ricotta cheese, 2 cups mozzarella, and 1/4 cup parmesan. Once the noodles are done, spread them out on waxed paper. I added a bit of parsley, and some salt and pepper. Next time, I'm going to add a bit of Italian seasoning mix as well.

Now comes the fun part! Smear each noodle with a spoonful of the cheese mixture, then top with whatever meats and veggies you want. I used cooked ground beef and diced mushrooms, but I think shrimp and mushrooms would be fun, or zucchini and green peppers and onions... whatever you like! Roll each noodle up tightly, then place seam-side down in a greased pan. Top with a can of your favorite spaghetti sauce, or use alfredo sauce if you've tried something like shrimp or chicken in your rolls. Bake as directed for your lasagna recipe.

These come out delicious, and less messy to serve than regular lasagna! They really don't take that much more work than layering the lasagna normally, either. I think it would be a fun recipe to make with friends, assembly-line style.

Monday, July 21, 2008

006: Fresh eggs!

Want to get the freshest eggs possible next time you're at the supermarket? Don't look at the "Best By" or "Sell By" date on the label. Find a little three-digit number that's stamped somewhere on the box. This is the actual day of the year that the eggs were packaged.

For example, if the eggs were put in the package on the 5th of January, the digit would read "005". If it were the 16th of February, it would say "047". But you don't even have to worry about figuring out what date those three digits translate to! You can just find the one with the highest number on the shelf... that will be the carton with the most recently packaged, freshest eggs.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

005: The Chef Returns!

After a long hiatus, I'm back!

Here's a quick tip for the day... if your recipe calls for sour milk or buttermilk and you don't have any on hand, you can create some like this: put a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar in a glass measuring cup, then add milk to make 1 cup. Let stand 5 minutes before using in your recipe.

I rarely ever buy buttermilk, so this trick works great.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

004: Easy Holiday Cookies

Been invited to one too many cookie exchanges? Try this unique recipe for some ooh's and ahh's.

Chocolate Mint Cake Mix Cookies

1 box chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup mint chips, like Hickory Farms Meltaway Mints (I use about half their bag, which is probably more than 1 cup!)

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix half the cake mix, softened butter, and eggs until creamy. Stir in remaining cake mix. (You may need to add 1-2 tbsp water if batter is too stiff to mix.) Mix in mint chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are set. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

Friday, October 19, 2007

003: My oven is weird.

I don't know what's wrong with my oven. My cake is perfectly done on one side, but the other side has this big raw patch on the top. It's cooked in stoneware, so it's not a problem with the pan!

Guess we'll see how it turns out in the end!

I'm making pumpkin spice cake, by the way. Really easy. Add one can of pumpkin to a spice cake mix, and omit the water. I actually added about 1/2 cup water to mine, but it really didn't need it. Bake according to package directions.

It works well if your oven cooks properly. I made pumpkin cakes like these last year! Here's some pictures:

Little pumpkins!
And more little pumpkins!

Those were made in mini bundt pans and frosted with tinted cream cheese frosting. The stems are twisted Tootsie Rolls. So cute!

Monday, October 1, 2007

002: New use for Ramen

Anyone ever tried making stir-fry with ramen noodles? It actually turns out really good! You can do it with just about any flavor noodles, plus any meats and veggies you want to use. You'll need a pretty big skillet (probably 12") or a wok to make this.

1. Cut the meat into thin strips, season with two packets from ramen packs, then stir-fry quickly, remove from heat and keep warm
2. Stir-fry any veggies you want, such as thin-cut carrots, broccoli, beansprouts, water chestnuts, snow peas - until crisp-tender
3. Add 4 packs ramen noodles, plus the other two seasoning packets, plus 4 cups water. Nestle the ramen blocks down into the water, and cover the pan. Cook 4-5 minutes or until noodles are soft
4. Add the meat back in, and stir everything up to break up the noodles and absorb the extra water. Cook a few more minutes until the meat's heated through.

And now you have a noodle skillet stir-fry!