Newspaper Article - Update

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ran to the market this morning to get the paper...AND - no article! :(
Maybe there wasn't enough time or room to get it in. I'll keep checking every day, and keep you posted.

About 10 days ago, I sent out some press releases about my Personal Chef business. I had done that previously in California and gotten a feature in Inland Empire Magazine out of it. So I figured I'd give it a shot here. 3 days ago, I got a call from the local daily newspaper, who wanted to do an article on my business. 2 days ago we did the interview over the phone. Today the newspaper photographer came and and took pictures of me cooking. Tomorrow the article will be in the paper.

Dang, that was fast. I'll let you know tomorrow how the article and photos turn out. Wish me luck for lots of customers to call!

I was nervous about the photo shoot, so on the advise of my mother (who seems to be all knowing) I cooked an old standby: Roasted Sticky Chicken. I also cooked baby red potatoes and broccoli, so I'm not sure which picture will end up in the paper.

I want to share the Sticky Chicken recipe with you. It is, bar none, the best roast chicken you will ever have. They freeze great, and I recommend you make several of them at one time since your oven is on for so long.

To Die For!



3 lb whole chicken
2 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 large onion - quartered

Combine all spices together in a small bowl. Rub mixture into chicken WELL, inside and out, patting into the skin and try to make it evenly distributed. Stuff the cavity with onion.

Roast uncovered @ 250 degrees (yes that's 250) for 5 hours (yes that's 5 hours). Baste occasionally with pan juices until they caramelize in the pan. Chicken will turn golden brown.

The pan drippings from this chicken make a great, slightly spicy pan gravy. Be forewarned, because of the spices, the gravy will be a little "orange". But served over mashed potatoes with the will have fans for life.

Keep you fingers crossed that my article (and photo) is flattering. I'll let you know tomorrow.


Liquid Diet

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

So, The Husband is on a liquid diet for 3 weeks following his surgery. You would think that would be easy, but not so much. Liquid, high in protein, high in fiber, low in sugar, and not monotonous. Wow, this is going to stretch my creative genius.

Yogurt. Yogurt Smoothies. Chicken Broth. Tomato Soup. More Chicken Broth. More Tomato Soup. Jello!

So, last night, feeling sorry for the guy, I actually made soup for dinner for the family, so he could eat the same meal as us. Except for the fact that his got pureed in the blender. Regardless, this soup was Wonderful! It went together very fast, and I had all the ingredients on hand. Of course, the ingredients were cheese, bacon, potatoes, sour cream and milk. The oldest brat even commented that we've been eating a lot of bacon lately. Hmmmm, bacon smoothies anyone?



12 slices bacon
2/3 cup margarine (I used 1 stick margarine and the rest bacon fat) :)
2/3 cup AP flour
7 cups milk
4 large baked potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 green onions, chopped
1 1/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper


Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium heat until browned. Drain, crumble and set aside.

In a stock pot or Dutch oven (thanks Mom!), melt the margarine over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in milk, whisking constantly until thickened. Stir in potatoes and onions. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Mix in bacon, cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted.
If not on a liquid diet, serve with crusty bread!

Please, feel free to share your favorite liquid recipes. And no, margaritas don't count!



Required Reading

Monday, August 25, 2008

Two books have been sitting on my nightstand for the last week. I consider both to be "required" reading.

The THREE SIGNS of a Miserable Job, by Patrick Lencioni


The BOOK of STILLMEADOW, by Gladys Taber

I consider these books required reading because:

Three Signs was given to the entire Senior Team at my corporate America job, and we were told there would be a quiz.

Stillmeadow was given to me by my mother 16 years ago. It's one of her favorite books. I found it when we moved last month, and figured I had put it off long enough.


Since there was going to be a test, I read Three Signs first. The HR Director that gave us this book to read must know how much I love irony. We were supposed to read this book, I am sure, to make sure as Managers our employees were happy. What I discovered was...... I have a miserable job. The three signs are: Anonymity, Irrelevance, and Immeasurement. Check, check, and check. Yup, I got 'em all. Fabulous.

Truth be told, I really enjoyed this book. It reads quick and easy (like me!), and actually did have a message that I wholeheartedly enjoyed. It's written as a fable, and I love the fact that the main character runs a small, run down Italian restaurant in Lake Tahoe. For any of you that have a staff over 5, I highly recommend this book. I'll be reading Lencioni's other book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, shortly. I've been given insider information that Five Dysfunctions is actually written about the senior team at my work.

I have just started Stillmeadow.

Work in progress...

I can see why my mother loves this book. It feels very English to me, and my entire maternal side of the family are anglophiles. It was published in the 1930's, and it's about a family that buys a 17th century farmhouse in Connecticut to restore as a weekend home.

Here's a passage:

"Autumn has varied gifts here in the Pomperaug Valley. Outdoor pleasures are still with us; picnics on a warm gray ledge with the good smell of broiling pork chops; walks along the country roads with the racing cockers; digging in the yet amiable earth to put in the last bulbs. We can work outdoors and not be muffled to the nose in woolens. But the lazy feeling of hot summer is gone, and we really feel like cleaning the garage, scrubbing the kennels, doing over that old maple chair."

That is beautifully written. I'm just having a hard time getting to that place. I can't quite relate. But I'm working on it Mom. I read a little every night, and hope it takes me away from this crazy, hectic place to a quieter, simpler place and time.



Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Talk about the ultimate comfort food. Pasta, eggs, bacon and cheese. I could happily live on a combination of those 4 ingredients for the rest of my life. Except for that whole scurvy thing. What if I ate those 4 ingredients and had a glass of OJ every once in a while? Yeah, I think that will work. I've never actually met anyone with scurvy before. I'm not sure if it even still exists. I do know that if it did still exist, Shelby would have it. If it's not beige, she won't eat it. And bananas, while sort of beige, still have too much color for Shelby to ingest it. The only colorful thing she eats is the Red Dye #5 that colors Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

Sorry, got off track there for a minute. That happens when you have children. Or husbands. Or ADHD.

Seriously, if you have never made this very traditional and unbelievably easy dish, try it tonight. You know you have the ingredients on hand!

Spaghetti alla Carbonara


1 pound dry spaghetti
2 Tbls extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta or bacon, cubed or sliced into small strips
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished. It is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm (al dente). Drain the pasta well, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if you wish.

Meanwhile, while the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium flame. Add the pancetta/bacon and saute for about 3-5 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered. Toss the garlic into the fat and saute for a minute to soften.

Slice the bacon...

Mince the garlic...

And cook 'em up!

Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss for 2 minutes to coat the strands in the bacon fat. Beat the eggs and Parmesan together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps.

Parmesan and cheese mixture...

Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (this is done off the heat to ensure this does not happen.) Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency.

I use tongs, because I always make too much to "toss"

Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt. Mound the spaghetti carbonara into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Pass more cheese around the table.

It's beige, so Shelby will eat it!



Baking, Baking, Baking!

Well, it's happened. I'm officially tired of baking. After a marathon session of blondies, muffins and cookies, I'm over it. So I'll share some pictures, and a recipe (from my Grandmother), and the only recipes I'll be sharing anytime soon will be savory. I'm thinking Spaghetti alla Carbonara tonight!

So the first goodie Summer and I made was a Peanut Butter Butterscotch Blondie. I'd never made Blondies before, and thought it would be fun. I think they're overrated. Probably won't be making them again anytime soon.

The ingredients...

The finished product...

Next we made Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. Tried a different recipe, and they weren't quite as good as the last one I posted. Although it made a TON of cookies, so I will probably make them again around Christmas time.

The ingredients....

It's called Multitasking!

Lastly, as I was digging through my recipe file, I found my Mother's handwritten recipe of my Grandmothers' Cinnamon Muffins. I remember her making these when I was a child for breakfast, and wanted to share these with my kids. They tasted just like I remember...not too sweet, and just enough cinnamon sugar goodness to get you through a cold winter morning. Too bad we don't have cold winter mornings here. And it's supposed to be 108 degrees today. Again. But the muffins were perfection. I suggest you try them some morning when its not 108 degrees.

Gladys Faye's Cinnamon Muffins

1 1/1 cups sifted flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter

Mix and sift flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and nutmeg. Combine well beaten egg, milk and melted butter; add to sifted ingredients and blend lightly (about 25 strokes). Half fill greased muffin pans with batter. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven about 12-14 minutes. Remove muffins from pans and immediately roll them in 1/3 cup melted mutter; then in a mixture of 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon. Best served warm.

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'.....

Keep those muffins rollin'

Move 'em on, head 'em up

Sorry, had a Rawhide moment there. Won't happen again. I hope.



Butterscotch Cookies

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I've been on chocolate overload lately. And except for Shelby, their aren't any other chocoholics in this house. So I decided to make some cookies that didn't contain any form of the cocoa bean (GASP!). These butterscotch cookies are light and crispy, and oddly enough remind me of my mother's White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies.

The unusual ingredient in these cookies is Rice Krispies, which I actually had on hand because my youngest made Rice Krispy Treats last weekend. Interestingly enough, my husband had NEVER had homemade Rice Krispy Treats...only the store bought kind. How is that even possible? His mother ran a day care for Pete's sake!



1/2 cup butter (softened)

1 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups AP flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 cups crisp rice cereal

1 cup butterscotch chips

Cooking Instructions

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar until the mixture is fluffy. Add in vanilla and egg and mix well. Add salt, flour, and baking soda. Mix well. Stir in the crisp rice cereal and butterscotch chips.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoon onto a greased cookie sheet.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

On a side note...for the hummus haters out there (Mom!), tell me what you'd like to see me cook and I'll see what I can do.



Chipotle Hummus

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ready for your food history lesson of the day?
Many cuisine-related sources describe hummus as one of the oldest known prepared foods, with a long history in the Middle East which stretches back to antiquity, but its historical origins are unknown. The main ingredients of hummus were known in the ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern worlds, however it is unknown whether hummus with tahini or any similar dish was made.

While the antiquity of hummus is not well documented, the history of its principal ingredient is more widely understood. Chickpeas are hummus' main ingredient and have been a human food item for over 10,000 years. The chickpea was used as a food item in Palestine before 4000 BC, was a common street dish in ancient Rome and was one of the earliest crops cultivated in Mesopotamia. Archaeological evidence identifies chickpeas in the Sumerian diet before 2500 BC. They are noted in a 13th century work by Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn al-Karim al Katab al Baghdadi of Persia for a "simple dish" of meat, pulses and spices.
Now don't you feel smarter!
I had so much fun with the Roasted Red Pepper Hummus the other day, I wanted to do it again. As I was perusing the contents of my pantry, what should catch my eye but the chipotle in adobo sauce that has been moved to at least two new houses. Perfect!

Warning, this is not for the faint at heart. I burned my face off with my first try. Had to add another can of garbanzo beans to tame it down. I won't taste anything for a week now. But boy are my sinuses clear!


2 cans garbanzo beans

1 can chipotle in adobo sauce

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup tahini

juice from 1 lemon

3 cloves garlic

2 tsp cumin

salt to taste

Drain the garbanzo beans, reserve the liquid from 1 can. Take 4 chilies from the can and rough chop.

To your food processor, add the garbanzo beans, 4 chilies, 2 tsp adobo sauce, the olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and cumin. As the hummus is mixing, slowly add in half of the juice from the beans, adding more if the texture is too thick. Add salt to your personal taste. I prefer sea salt.

Isn't it a pretty color. Don't be deceived! It's spiciness will sneak up on you and bite you on the A**.

But served in a pretty bowl (all mine were full or dirty, so no pictures for you!) with some homemade pita chips, and you will be a fan. Trust me...make yourself some hummus today. But if you aren't a fan of the heat, stick with my roasted red pepper hummus. Cause this one is H.O.T.!

For those of you ready to try hummus, but not wanting to make your own, most of the store bought stuff is pretty good. Price Club and Sam's Club have particularly tasty versions. Store bought pita chips aren't bad, and hummus is good as a veggie dip too. Let me know how you like it!



Ahhhhh, Vegas

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

We arrived in Vegas Tuesday night around 8:00 pm. Checked into the room, and my oh my we were upgraded to a suite. It was lovely.

Since the room came with two free buffets, and Jimmy couldn't eat anything after 6:00 pm, Summer and I took advantage, full advantage, of the free buffets. I wasn't too hungry, so I had very little dinner so as to save room for dessert. Raspberry cheesecake. Chocolate cups filled with chocolate mousse and Oreo cookies! Individual lemon tarts. And Summer got a freshly made cotton candy to go. It was heavenly. It was almost as much fun as watching Summer eat the crawfish!

Me: "Have you had those before?"

Summer: "Yeah, at Haley's BBQ."

Me: "Do you know how to eat them?"

Summer: "Yep, you rip off the heads, suck out the juice and eat the meat."

That's my girl! Gotta love a 10 year old that's not afraid to try things. She loves food as much as I do, which is going to be her downfall.

This picture is for Karri. It's from Margaritaville. What a fun store!

This is the view from our room on the 31st floor.

Jimmy is doing well after his surgery. He's going to drive today, and walk around a store or two for some exercise. I'll keep you posted.



Southwestern Peppered Cream Chicken

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

So, I made this last night, and the family loved it. I would call it comfort food. I think this came from the PW dairy recipe contest, but I have so many recipes I can't be sure. I love anything smothered in sauce or gravy. Probably explains the lifelong battle with my weight.

Just wanted to let you know I'll be off line for a couple of days. The hubby is having surgery, so I'll be enjoying Las Vegas (for about 17 hours). I'm thinkin' you probably don't want me to post pics of the surgery...but maybe I'll have some good Vegas pictures for ya.



Southwestern Peppered Cream Chicken

1/4 cup flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed

1/4 tsp pepper

4 medium skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

2 tsp cooking oil

1/4 cup chicken broth

1 cup milk

1 TBS snipped fresh cilantro

1 4 oz can diced green chiles, drained

4 slices Monteray jack cheese

Hot cooked rice

In a small bowl, combine flour, garlic salt, oregano, and pepper. Place two TBS of the flour mixture in a small dish and set aside for future use.

Rinse chicken. Pat dry. Coat chicken with flour mixture. In large skillet brown chicken on both sides in hot oil. Remove from skillet.

Carefully add broth to skillet, stirring to loosen any browned bits. In a small bowl whisk milk into remaining flour mixture. Add to broth along with cilantro. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly; reduce heat.

Return chicken to skillet; stir in chillies. Cover and cook 8-10 minutes more until chicken is no longer pink. Place cheese slices on chicken pieces, cover and cook until cheese melts. Serve with rice.

Cooking Day

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sundays. Seems like that would be a great day to get in some cooking, doesn't it. Hmmph. You haven't met my family. Let me introduce you...

This is my youngest, Summer. She's very high maintenance. She thinks it's a good idea if we dress like twins. I think she's wrong.

This is my oldest, Shelby. She's in charge of the dishes. I can't cook until she gets the dirty ones out of the sink. It's gonna be a while.

This is Smokey. He ignores me...until it's time for me to cook. Then he won't leave me alone.

This is Jimmy. He steals cookies when he thinks I'm not looking. I'm always looking.

These are Peanut Butter Cookies made from a recipe I found on They are heavenly. I made them to take to work tomorrow. They aren't gonna last that long.

You're probably wondering where the picture is of my 3rd brat, Stormy. She's 17, and drives. So I don't see her much. One day, I'll catch her on film and then you will know she's not a figment of my imagination.

I'm off to make Southwestern Peppered Cream Chicken. New recipe. If it doesn't suck, I'll share it with you tomorrow.



Peanut Butter Cookies

The brilliance of these cookies is that they include two different formats for peanuts–three if you use chunky peanut butter. They’re crisp on the outside, and almost cakey on the inside. Bake a batch and then hide the results in the furthest and most forgettable reaches of your kitchen. You’ll thank me later.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter at room temperature (smooth is what we used, but I am pretty sure they use chunky at the bakery)
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (for sprinkling) sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the peanut butter chips. Place sprinkling sugar on a plate. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls into the sugar, then onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion. Using a fork, lightly indent with a crissscross pattern, but do not overly flatten cookies.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
Do not overbake. Cookies may appear to be underdone, but they are not.

Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Personal Chef

Sunday, August 17, 2008

When I tell people that I'm starting my own Personal Chef business, they never know what I'm talking about. 100,000 PC's in this country, and nobody has ever heard of it. I think that's odd. I'm making it my personal mission to introduce Personal Cheffing to the world. Okay, maybe not the world. How about the people in my pathetic little circle?

A Personal Chef is someone who comes into the customers home and cooks several days worth of meals for them. Packages the meals, labels them, and leaves them in the fridge and the freezer. Pretty cool, huh. I've always wanted to hire one, but I've always been the only PC in my area. And I can't afford me.

I did PC'ing several years ago in Southern California, and thoroughly enjoyed it. But finally had to rejoin corporate America for the pay and the benefits. I've decided to start the business up again because I miss cooking. REALLY miss it. And the brats preferred diet of beige foods does NOT fulfill my culinary need.

So I have dug out all my old PC stuff and I think I'm about ready. Here is my issue...I have over 1000 recipes in my PC binder. I also have about 100 cookbooks. But those are never the recipes I want for my menu. I strive to have about 100 choices on my menu for my clients. I have my tried and true, go to favorites on there. I have items I've loved from other cooks, like Paula or Rachael or PW. But I have one issue...I'll find the title of a dish that sounds wonderful, and put it on my menu. Then I have to find or create the recipe for it. Example: I heard of a dish from Canadian Living called Calypso Burritos. It was referenced in a story on theme parties. I searched the internet high and low, and cannot find that recipe. But I WANT it. So now, I get to spend time creating a dish that fits the title Calypso Burrito. I think I'm doing things backwards. That's not unusual. Being the impatient only child that I am, I always start and the end and work my way back. Not sure yet how that's workin for me. I'll let you know.


Friday, August 15, 2008

So, I'm a little slow to get into this daily blogging thing. Pioneer Woman I'm not. In my defense, I recently moved into a new house, and have been trying to get it unpacked and organized.

This is the before of my new dining room...

And this is the after.....

See that centerpiece on the table....

It's kitchy, totally 70's, and one of my favorite things. It was my grandmothers, and sat on HER dining room table as long as I can remember. My children think it's SOOOO not cool, but I wouldn't trade it for a thing.

This hutch was my grandmother's too, and she gave me all that fiesta ware (that I love but won't actually let anyone eat off of). All that tequila on the top...that's one of my favorite things too.

Speaking of favorite things:

Considering I think of myself as young at heart, and hip, I sure seem to surround myself from things that remind me of 50-100 years ago. I must be an old soul.
Thanks for reading. I promise I'll be back tomorrow, and we'll chat about Personal Cheffing.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hummus. Hmmmmm. Not really anything I've ever wanted to try. But it seems, lately, that every month one of my magazines is featuring hummus. I read cooking magazines (Rachael Ray, Bon Appetit), fashion magazines (Glamour, Cosmo) and health magazines (Oxygen, Self), and they've all had a hummus recipe in the last couple of months.

So last weekend I was in Vegas for a wedding. I drove 4 hours round trip for a 5 minute wedding. So I decided to treat myself to a trip to Whole Foods for a snack for the trip home. Can I tell you how much I love Whole Foods. If you've never been, I can only describe it as Disneyland for foodies. Good lord it's expensive, but it is fun, fun, fun!

So I'm wandering around the store, lusting the 120 types of cheese, the 30 kinds of olives, the organic produce, when I happen upon the hummus section. I thought how bad can it be, and bought 3 kinds of hummus: roasted red pepper, artichoke and olive, and garlic. Got me some toasted pita chips and a peach lemonade, and after $22 at the register, hit the road.

Oh My God, I was in love. No wonder they've been featuring this stuff in the magazines. Tasty and healthy! I didn't know that was possible. Brought home what little was left and shared with the hubby. Even he liked it!

So, today, after a town wide search for the ingredients (Note to Self: Tahini is NOT available at WalMart). I made Roasted Red Pepper Hummus and Baked Pita Chips. Don't listen the the naysayers who don't like will be hooked if you try it.

For the baked pita chips, I cut the pita's into 8th, separated them, placed them on a baking sheet and sprayed them with olive oil spray, then seasoned with whatever I had on hand. Sea Salt and Parmesan. Spicy Seasoning Salt. Garlic. Baked 12-13 minutes at 350. YUMMY!

For the hummus, I dumped the following in the food processor:
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1 jar roasted red peppers, drained
3 whole cloves garlic
2 heaping tablespoons Tahini (try the health food store!)
1/4 cup olive oil

Blend until smooth. Chill and serve with the pita chips. You can thank me later.

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