Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cook N AGAIN! : Kathy Casey's Hot Buttery Almond Rum

My goodness, it has been a while since I have posted!

I have spent the last few months globe trotting on business which has enabled me to eat the most amazing foods...gelato, tapenades and pastas in S. Italy...Seafood and Spring lamb Down Under,...a fabulous Duck in Hong Kong! I have been so amazingly blessed! I have lots of photos to share, but unfortunately, I have not had much tim to cook and bake and blog.

I have been asked to share one of my most favorite holiday beverages. If you are getting together with your girlfriends at any point this holiday, I highly recommend this recipe from Kathy Casey. Whenever I travel through Seatac, I always make a point to stop in to her Dish D'lish cafe and experience her fabulous food.

Hot Buttery Almond Rum
Kathy Casey (from the book: Dishing with Kathy Casey)

For the drink:
3T Almond Butter Batter (recipe below)
1oz (2T)dark or spiced rum
5oz (1/2c + 2T) boiling water

For the batter:
2 sticks butter, softened
6oz marzipan (make sure it says "almond paste")
1-1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1-3/4 c powdered sugar
1 pint high quality vanilla ice cream, softened
1T vanilla extract
1-1/2t each: almond extract, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg

Cream the butter, marzipan and sugars together until slightly fluffy.
Mix remaining ingredients until thoroughly combined.
Store in fridge for up to 1 week, or freezer for up to 1 month.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Introduce N: My Self Care Blog

Well I have been out of the kitchen the past few weeks, but cooking up some new ideas just the same!

I have been busy exploring social media marketing tools . Increasing my knowledge of twitter, facebook and blogger, then learning how to link these.

One of my experiments has been a new blog dedicated to Women's Self Care: My Self Care Blog. The blog is an exploration in taking good care of oneself. Please check it out!

I have been on facebook for less than a week now and have had a fairly good response to my self care page so far. If you would like to become a "fan" you can find the page under the username of "Self Care Girl".
If you like to tweet- you can find me on twitter as well. I haven't quite got this one figured out yet, but I haven't given up yet!

If you get on these pages and like what you see, please drop me and line and do tell your friends. It is my aim to get discussions, ideas, and input from other women about little (and big!) things that you do to take care of yourself. I would love to hear from you!

Take Good Care!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Celebrate N: Happy Easter!

All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives. -Dalai Lama

Happy Easter to all my friends and family!

Simon and I are taking it easy today, so there will be no serious holiday cook' n in the Cook home this afternoon. We have a 4:30 reservation at Palisade Restaurant in Seattle with Grandma Elaine. We are also celebrating her 80-something birthday.

We have been doing this fine dining thing for holidays recently, mostly because we don't have a lot of family close by. I like not having to clean up and I like a gourmet meal, but I have to admit that I miss having my family gathered, an easter egg hunt, and a good home cooked meal that once defined our Easter holiday. Making new traditions is necessary, but not easy.

At any rate, we have a beautiful day today- after a fairly stormy week. We are planning a walk and you never know...we might spy a rabbit..or score an easter egg if we are lucky.

Happy Easter to you!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cook N Comfort Food: 4 Cheese Penne with Proscuitto and Peas

I have been craving homemade mac n cheese for weeks now, so when I came across this recipe I knew it would be on our menu this week.

Not sure what the fat and calorie count is for this recipe, but I served it up with a nice green salad and I ran on the treadmill earlier in the day, so I think the indulgence was justifiable.

The recipe is from Cook's Illustrated. The goal was to create a cheesy pasta dish that actually tasted cheesy and creamy. This recipe achieved that goal, and Simon really liked it, so we are both going to keep working out and have it again soon!

We added Proscuitto and Peas (and a little leftover pancetta too). This summer I will definately try the tomato basil version, using fresh tomatoes and basil from my garden.


(1/2 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
•¼-teaspoon salt
•1/8-teaspoon ground black pepper
•Pasta and Cheese
•4-ounces Italian Fontina cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
•3-ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (about ¾ cup)
•½-cup (1 ounce) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
•¼-cup (1/2 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
•1-pound penne
•1-tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon salt
•2-teaspoons unsalted butter
•2-teaspoons all-purpose flour
•1-1/2 cups heavy cream
•¼-teaspoon ground black pepper

1.For the topping: Pulse bread in food processor until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about ten 1-second pulses (you should have about 11/2 cups). Transfer to small bowl; stir in Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Set mixture aside.
2.For the pasta: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees.
3.Bring 4-quarts water to rolling boil in stockpot. Combine cheeses in large bowl; set aside. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water; stir to separate pasta. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat; whisk flour into butter until no lumps remain, about 30 seconds. Gradually whisk in cream, increase heat to medium, and bring to boil, stirring occasionally; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 1 minute to ensure that flour cooks. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper; cover cream mixture to keep hot and set aside. When pasta is very al dente (when bitten into, pasta should be opaque and slightly underdone at very center), drain about 5 seconds, leaving pasta slightly wet. Add pasta to bowl with cheeses; immediately pour cream mixture over, then cover bowl with foil or large plate and let stand 3 minutes. Uncover bowl and stir with rubber spatula, scraping bottom of bowl, until cheeses are melted and mixture is thoroughly combined.
4.Transfer pasta to a baking dish, then sprinkle evenly with reserved bread crumbs, pressing down lightly. Bake until topping is golden brown, about 7 minutes. Serve immediately.
6.Baked Four-Cheese Pasta with Tomatoes and Basil
7.Follow recipe for Creamy Baked Four-Cheese Pasta, adding one 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained, to pasta along with cream mixture and stirring in ¼-cup coarsely chopped basil leaves just before transferring pasta to baking dish.
8.Baked Four-Cheese Pasta with Prosciutto and Peas
9.Follow recipe for Creamy Baked Four-Cheese Pasta, omitting salt from cream mixture and adding 4-ounces prosciutto, chopped, and 1 cup frozen peas to pasta along with cream mixture.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Temper N: Chocolate for Easter Candy-Part 1

I picked up this little bunny chocolate mold while shopping in the local Snohomish antique shops recently. The 4-inch bunny is a reproduction. I think he is the perfect size for a solid chocolate treat. I like the simplicity of him.

After I purchased the bunny, my curiosity was piqued. I went on ebay and bought a really cool chocolate egg mold. It has three different egg designs. My favorite is the basket weave. These are half eggs which will be marvelous filled with coconut or peanut butter cream, or some type of ganache.

Tonight I decided to try my hand at tempering chocolate.

When tempered properly, chocolate will solidify with a glossy smooth sheen that is ideal for chocolate easter bunnies and chocolate filled eggs. If chocolate is not tempered correctly it tends to develop a white powdery coating called "bloom". Bloom isn't harmful, it just isn't very attractive.

The task of tempering is a little intimidating- but, the good news is that if you mess it up, you can just start over and no harm is done. So there really is nothing to be afraid of here

Callebaut and Valharona are two types of excellent quality chocolate preferred by expert chocolatiers. Unfortunately, I was not able to find these (I confess I did not look very hard). I selected Dilettante because they are a local operation and their quality is high.

I set to work and followed chef, David Lebovitz',advice for tempering. He makes it sound so darn easy:

Tempering Chocolate

(excerpt from:

1. The first step is melting the chocolate in a clean, dry bowl set over simmering water, to about 115° F.

2. The second step it to let it cool to the low 80°s F. I drop a good-sized chunk of solid (and tempered) chocolate in, which provides insurance by 'seeding' the melted chocolate with good beta crystals. While cooling, stir frequently. Motion equals good crystallization, aka, tempering.

3. The last step is the most important.

It's bringing the chocolate up to the perfect temperature, where it's chock-full of those great beta crystals. This occurs in most dark chocolates between 88° and 91° F. (Check with manufacturer if unsure about your particular chocolate.)

4. Remove what's left of the chunk of 'seed' chocolate, and your chocolate is dip-worthy: you can dip all the chocolates you want and all will be perfectly tempered. Don't let it get above 91° F or you'll have to begin the process all over again. If it drops below the temperatures, rewarm it gently to bring it back up.

My Result: Overall, I found the process really was quite easy. It takes a little while for the chocolate to cool to the 80 degrees and I caught myself a couple of times wanting to move on before the temperature was right. However, I stayed the course and my tempering results were pretty good.

The molding process was not so successful...

The bunny came out of its mold easily, but I was immediately aware of several air bubbles that formed. This causes the bunny to look a bit tattered. He is still cute though and I am pleased with this first attempt. I will have to find a better way to fill this mold so that bubbles are prevented.

The eggs were a bit more difficult. I had trouble removing these from the mold and it shows. I need to research better options for extracting these. Overall, though I like how the patterns are going to look on the chocolate.

The beautiful thing about working with chocolate as a medium is that tastes so good. I am sure that I am well over my calorie count for today from all of the tasting I have done. These delicious little mishaps are going right back into the double boiler and I will need to apply a little research to solve these chocolate molding issues (hopefully, before Easter next Sunday). I will keep you posted on the progress of that.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Stir N the Political Pot: Of Lemons and Healthcare Reform...

While, I never intended that this blog be used as a forum for political commentary, I felt compelled to write today on the economics of the proposed healthcare reform bill which is being voted on today by our government.

I consider myself an independent, because I tend to just shake my head in disbelief most of the time at what our government thinks is a good idea. I have no allegience to either party. I am progressive on the topic of human rights and freedoms, but quite conservative fiscally.

I believe that the New Healthcare bill that our government is voting on today is a really poor idea. This plan is a real lemon and I think it is only fitting that I use the following analogy to get my point across....

Let's say I own a lemonade stand. I pay for lemons and sugar and the space where I conduct my business. The water I use to make my lemonade is paid for by the people who I rent my shop from. I price my lemonade at $1 a cup. This covers the costs of running my business and adds a small percentage so that I can also make a small profit.

Now say that the owner of my shop comes to me and tells me that the water is no longer going to be free. I will have to pay extra for the water, because I cannot make lemonade without water and – while I regret the impact on my customers, I have no choice but to raise the price of each serving of lemonade to S1.10 per cup to cover this increased expense.

During this time, the person who sells me lemons and sugar has been hit with increased taxes on the sale of their products. They regret to inform me that they have no choice but to raise the prices of lemons and sugar so that they can cover their increased expense imposed by these taxes. I- in turn- have no choice but to pass that cost on to my customers and now a cup of lemonade will cost $1.30 to cover my increased expense.

The government steps in and tells my customers that drinking a cup of lemonade each day is now mandatory and those who don’t buy lemonade each day will be fined $5 per day. As a seller of lemonade, I am thrilled because demand for my product has instantly increased.

While my costs for ingredients per cup remain constant. I have to hire additional help to meet this demand and pay for a bigger shop and extra equipment. I set a new price on a cup of lemonade to a price that ensures I can meet these costs and not lose profit.

Yet, I find that I also must ensure that I am competitive. I see that Lou's Lemonade stand down the street is selling Lemonade for $4.50 a cup now. I realize that if I just substitue the costly sugar for a more inexpensive (and untaxed) artificial sweetner and then use a bit less lemon in each cup, I may be able to undercut Lou's price by 25cents a cup. I set my new price at $4.25 a cup, and soon Lou has no choice but to follow suit. He changes the quality of his recipe and settles on a more competitive price.

This is real business economics and I believe it is an accurate description of how our insurance companies are going to respond if the Health Care bill passes today. Take away the subsidies to Medicare (free water), impose taxes on drug companies and medical device manufacturers (lemon and sugar suppliers) and the insurance companies (lemonade stand) are going to be forced to increase their prices and decrease the quality of coverage.

When the government makes healthcare mandatory- you and I will be further hit because we will have no choice but to do business with the insurance companies. This is great news for the insurance companies. Insurance companies are big business! Their goal- like any other business- is to cut costs and increase revenues. All increased costs will be passed to the end users (you and me) –everyone will be paying more and getting less.

I – for one- will be hoping that the Health care reform bill fails today. I do believe that Americans need access to affordable quality healthcare. This plan is not going to provide that.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cook N: Snow Ice Cream

This post is dedicated to my brother, Dennis, and his family who live in Denver, Colorado.

Yesterday, Dennis reported on facebook that they woke up to snow. I believe that this is not an uncommon occurance in Denver this time of year, but it is a stark contrast to the beautiful spring-like weather that we have experienced in the Pacific Northwest for most of the winter. ( is supposed to be a sweltering 70 degrees here today!)

I thought this might provide them a little "taste" of summer at their house too....

The link and video below is from the website "Living on a Dime". The recipe is for Snow Ice Cream.

It would seem that the only drawback to snow ice cream is that it is a little difficult to make if you don't have snow. Those of us in more "tropical" climates will still need to make our ice cream the old fashioned way.

Take a moment and visit They have a multitude of great ideas for cutting costs and living frugally.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cook N for Valentine's Day, plus Brunch N at Palisades

Happy Valentine's Day!

Mr Cook and I ventured out this morning for a brunch date at Palisades Restaurant in Seattle. This is one of our favorite little places to have brunch. The buffet is top notch, loaded up with fabulous seafood, an assortment of salads, macadamia nut pancakes, hot chocolate dipping sauce, fresh fruit and an assortment of pastries...of course this is in addition to the entree that we have learned to ask for "to go" as we cannot possibly fully indulge at the buffet and still have room for breakfast wellington or steak and eggs.

Gone this visit was the fabulous oyster bar. We were told that they had opted to provide an assortment of crab legs instead. (I missed the oysters)

What really made my morning though....the Bloody Mary Buffet!

The new Bloody Mary bar. Holy Cow! I was offered a selection of 4 types of vodka, and two types of salt and when my bloody mary arrived looking quite clear and non-bloody mary like, my waiter informed me that the Bloody Mary buffet was located in the bar. Hello?

So I made my way to the bar with my glass of vodka and I found two types of bloody mary mix - one spicy, one mild- and a complete selection of hot pepper sauces and accoutrements all neatly lining the bar. Fresh cilantro, basil, lemon and lime slices, celery, several olives, pickled onions, pickled peppers, pickled green beans, pickled asparagus, marinated mushrooms, marinated carrots, and then little kebabs of cherry tomato and shrimp...little kebabs of salami and olives...

It was the best bloody Bloody Mary bar I have ever encountered. (Okay it was the first bloody mary bar I ever encountered...) It even made up for the absence of the oyster bar....a little.

In addition to a fabulous brunch, Mr Cook bought me a card and has promised to buy me a tea rose to plant in front of our new garden fence.

He knows me well. I am much happier with a plant or tree for my garden than a bouquet of flowers that will be gone in a week or two. (although roses are nice and would never be refused.)

But Alas....Valentines is not all about me. I spent a little time yesterday making a special treat for Mr Cook. Mr Cook is not a big fan of sweets (well, he says that, but he that doesn't seem to deter him from gobbling up sweets when they are provided). He does have an interesting affinity for beef jerky however. Often he will walk up to a bag in the store and hold it for a few moments...then put it back. He never actually buys beef jerky, he just looks at it. (He doesn't like the price of beef jerky.)

So for Valentines this year, I bought some london broil on Thursday. Sliced it up and marinated it in soy sauce, worchestershire sauce and liquid smoke on Friday night. Then laid it out on racks of our food dehydrator on Saturday. Voila...Valentines jerky.

We have had that dehydrator for close to 10 years and this was the first time we used it. It worked well and I am thinking about trying out a few more jerky recipes. You can also cook this slow and low in your oven...

Beef Jerky

2lb lean beef (flank steak, top round, london broil...) cut in thin strips
1/2c soy sauce
1/4 c worchestershire sauce
1Tbsp liquid smoke

Combine soy sauce, worchestershire sauce and liquid smoke to make the marinade. Marinate the beef strips in this sauce overnight.

Drain the beef and lay out on dehydrator racks...Dry according to the instructions for your particular dehydrator. It took about 6 hours for ours to reach what we determined was the right consistency of dryness for us. Watch it after about 4 hours and keep checking it until it is to your liking. can dry beef jerky in your oven. Set the oven to 150 degrees. Lay the beef strips across the rack of a broiler pan. Keep an eye on the jerky to ensure it doesn't get too dry. It can take as long as 8 hours for the jerky to dry in the oven.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bake N 4 Jake: February Cookie of the Month - Pink Cookies

One of Jake's favorite cookies are perfect for Valentine's Day. You have probably seen these at your local espresso stand. A soft, cakey cookie slathered in fluffy pink frosting. I found this recipe on line a while back and I really love how simple it is.
The cookies are dropped by tablespoon full onto a baking sheet - no rolling and cutting required- so they are relatively quick to throw together. They are also quite rich, so even though it just makes a small batch, these will last a bit.
I packed these into a tin, and sent Jake on his way back to Boise. I am pretty sure he got the message that he is truely loved by his mom.



1 cup butter
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 cup milk
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a cookie sheet.
2.In a large bowl, cream the margarine and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time, mix well. Stir in the milk and vanilla. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder; stir into the creamed mixture until everything is well blended. Drop cookie dough by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet.
3.Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. The tops of the cookies should spring back to the touch like a cake. Cool on wire racks before frosting.



2/3 cup butter, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
4 drops red food coloring
1.In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, confectioners' sugar, and milk until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and food coloring. Spread on or between cookies.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Bake N: Cream Puffs

I had a dream the other night about cream puffs. Lots and lots of cream puffs.

My grandmother used to make trays of these for family gatherings, using a recipe from her Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. Grandma would make two types, one filled with cool whip an sprinkled with powdered sugar and one filled with chocolate pudding and drizzled with chocolate sauce. I remember she instructed me once to NEVER double the recipe for cream puffs because they won't turn out. Make several batches instead.

In my dream I made many many flavors..fresh strawberry, tangy lemon curd, chocolate mousse, pistachio cream...I just couldn't stop making cream puffs!

For the life of me, I do not recall what the occaision was...not that one needs an occaision to make cream puffs. They are incredibly easy to make, but I know that they look (and taste) sort of intimidating. I love recipes like that.

My best girlfriend, dropped by on Saturday night to spend the weekend with us...I had to tease her about being psychic because Simon had just tidied the guest room and I had cream puffs on the menu. /p>

My recipe is from my grandma's copy of Better Homes & Garden Cookbook. I used real whipping cream and added almond flavoring instead of vanilla. You can put just about anything in them including savory chicken salad if you don't have a sweet tooth. The recipe makes 12 small cream puffs, or 6 jumbo sized cream puffs (like my grandma used to make).

Enjoy- and if you make these, let me know what you filled them with!

Basic Cream Puffs


Choux Pastry:

1 cup water
½ cup butter (1 stick)
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs

In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter and salt. Bring to boiling over medium-high heat. Add flour all at once, stirring vigorously. Cook and stir until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat.

Cool puff dough for 10 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each addition.

Drop dough by TBSP onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake in a hot oven 450F for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325F for 25 minutes. Remove the Pastry from the oven and cool on a baking rack.

You can, like my grandma, just cut open each puff and fill them with chocolate pudding or cool whip in a pinch. For the cream puffs I made (and devoured) last night, I whipped up about a pint of heavy whipping cream with a tsp or two of sugar (to taste) and a drop of almond extract. Fill the cream puffs and sprinkle a bit of powdered sugar on top. Yum!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Not Cook N, but I would like 2 B : Mochi Ice Cream


Tried Mochi ice cream for the first time the other night and my mouth has been watering for it ever since.

I had heard of Mochi ice cream but I didn't know what it was. I assumed it was just Japanese ice cream. The box called to me at Trader Joe's on several occaisions, but I resisted, unaware of the awesomeness that I was so nonchalant in rejecting.

Fast forward to girl's night on Friday....

Really cool bimonthly book exchange at a girlfriend's home. We clear our bookshelves of whatever books we don't want, tote them to the book exchange party and come home with a bunch of other new books that other guests didn't want. We also drink wine and eat good food while discussing books we liked, didn't like...and other girl stuff.

One of the guests showed up with two kinds of mochi ice cream- green tea and mango. Mochi ice cream is a ball of ice cream that is wrapped in a smooth sweet dough made from rice flour and sugar and eggs. When you bite into one you get sweet and soft doughy dumpling and cool, ice cream goodness. I had one of each flavor - and I wanted more, but I didn't want to be rude.

The beauty of Mochi Ice Cream is that there is only about 100 calories per dumpling and about 4 grams of fat. (I don't know if "dumpling" is the correct term but they seem like a sort of dumpling to me.)

Trader Joe's carries these, and I have heard that they are offered in many sushi or Japanese restaurants. Try them...and invite me over when you do!

I would like to find a recipe. I may have to experiment a bit with this. While the dough seems fairly straight-forward from the list of ingredients, the ice cream seems a bit over preserved -lots of chemicals I would prefer to avoid. I will let you know as soon as I come up with a homemade version (or if you can send me one...I would be very appreciative!)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cook N Breakfast: Maple Nut Granola

I have been promising Simon that I would make some homemade granola for a while now. This month's Martha Stewart Food magazine has a great recipe for a lower fat, maple syrup sweetened granola that fit the bill.

I am a big fan of Fage Greek yogurt. If you haven't tried this yet, you must! It is available at Trader Joe's and I am seeing it in more and more stores lately. I think this granola will accompany that nicely.

Maple Nut Granola

3.5 cups of rolled oats
1/4 c of chopped pecans
1/4 c of chopped almonds
5 t canola oil
5T real maple syrup*
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 t salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
Spread onto rimmed ungreased cookie sheet and place in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Rotate the cookie sheet halfway through cooking.

Cool completely before serving.

*real maple syrup tastes 10000x better than the imitation "mrs butterworth" or "log cabin" varieties that contain high fructose corn syrup. If you have never tried the real stuff, I encourage you to do this. It is a healthy alternative sweetener .

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bake N: ANZAC Muffins (American Princess Style)

Once upon a time (around Christmas), an American Princess was visiting her in-laws in a far off land....

Great gifts were bestowed upon this lucky princess on Christmas morning, but no gift was quite so appreciated as the Muffin cookbook that was given to her by the Queen (the mum of her handsome and incredibly charming prince...*heavy sigh)

The American Princess and her beloved "Muffin Cookbook"

The muffin cookbook was special for several reasons. Both the American Princess and Prince Charming had endured a full week of being criticized by the Queen for being overweight and certainly on the brink of diabetes. This book would serve as ammo should the subject of their American diets and overeating chance to rear its ugly head again during the remainder of their visit (nevermind the arsenal of mince pies, brandy cream, two Christmas dinners, sausage rolls, pork pies, Christmas pudding, cheese board and tins of quality street chocolates that had been thrust upon them since their arrival)..they both thought muffins were spectacular little treats...and, well, you only have to give the American Princess a cookbook to make her happy.

On the way home...down the M6, across the pond and up the I405...the American Princess came across this little recipe in her Muffin cookbook and decided that she must try it as soon as her very busy schedule allowed it: ANZAC Muffins

You will recall that back in September, I mean...the American Princess....baked a batch of ANZAC biscuits for her dear sweet little Jake-a-roo. Check here for that recipe.

ANZAC biscuits are a favorite of Prince Charming too. He had surgery on Friday and has been laid up this week. He is improving- we just need to adjust his attitude a little. I can't think of a better way to do that, than to make him some ANZAC muffins.

Prince Charming tries an ANZAC muffin...he seems slightly improved here.

Of course, no sooner had I sat down with the cookbook to give the recipe a whirl, did I realize that this was not really a cookbook befitting an American Princess at all...alas! the measurements were are in metric! (No doubt an evil ploy by the queen to discourage our full execution of these fattening recipes)

Ah, but once again she has underestimated the American Princess -in-law and the power of the internet! With just a few taps on the keyboard, metric conversion was right at her fingertips! (Pray, let us hope she never does come up to speed in that skill or none of us will live happily ever after on the home cook n blog again)

(*insert evil laugh here).

A disclaimer: I really do love the Queen- she can be quite fun and pleasant to be around most times. Once we set our boundaries (and god knows this must occur every freakin' time we encounter each other....) she is really not so bad. I learned recently that she called me the "american princess" and if it weren't for the fact that I quite liked that title, I might have reason to be insulted by it. There are better ways to deal with these things, surely.

Notes on recipe below:

  • 50g of butter is half of a cube or 1/4 cup

  • Lyle's Golden Syrup can be found your better grocery stores. Our local Top Foods carries it. You can substitute light corn syrup if you can't find it.

  • 290 C is 375 F - I used our convection oven at 350 F with good results.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cook N Up Something I Probably Shouldn't Have Bought...

I love spaghetti. (*heavy sigh)

It is the food that brings me great comfort...the food that most reminds me of my childhood and Sunday dinners at my grandparent's home.

My mother tells me that my great grandfather, Alessandro Cesaro, used to make homemade sauce that would simmer for days- it was the best sauce she ever tasted. He would eat his spaghetti with a spoon and a fork. The spoon was used to wrap the long pasta around and around the fork. Alas! I do not remember him or his sauce because I was very young when he died.

My grandmother used to make spaghetti and meatballs every Sunday. We would come together with aunts, uncles and cousins and grab a plate of pasta and a few meatballs, sprinkle it with parmasean cheese. We would grab a slice of garlic bread, a scoop of sweet corn, and tear off a bit of lettuce from a wedge. A little Thousand Island and a Pepsi and we were a happy lot.

Spaghetti was the obvious choice because it is fairly quick- Grandma made hers from scratch, but she didn't do it the same laborious way her father did. She used Heinz tomato paste, as I recall. And her meatballs were always perfect-I really wish I knew her secret. Cost is another obvious reason for the Spaghetti dinners of long ago- whereas my Italian grandmother was all about bringing the family together with food, my Dutch grandfather was all about frugality.

Well, tonight, I think both my grandmother and grandfather would both be shaking thier heads in dismay. Not because I bought and served my husband spaghetti sauce out of a jar....but because I actually paid $9.99 for it.

Article 1: The $9.99 Jar of was 100% natural!

Grandpa would certainly wonder if there was gold laced tomatoes in the mix, and well, grandma would laugh it off with a twinkle in her eye. She would be much more forgiving, and probably pleased to see me taking such good care of my man (she would have really loved Simon and his English accent!)

I loved my grandma...I think everyone who knew her, loved her.

The $9.99 Spaghetti sauce was an impulse buy. I sometimes do extravagant things when I am in the pasta aisle at the grocery store. I am like a cat with catnip. I can't help myself.

My assessment:

Very tomatoey..and good roasted garlic flavor...but I really cannot justify the $9.99 here. I think I can make something as good, if not better.

Husband's response was "it okay", meaning: "It will do. I am hungry and it took you a long time to notice that I was just wasting away over here while waiting for you to stop facebooking and make me some dinner"..I don't think he has tastebuds either-he just likes to eat... but he would have liked my grandmas spaghetti dinners. I guarantee it!

Another important note...Grandma would never have let him wash the dishes...although she would have been very impressed that he does. "And he does dishes too?" I could hear her exclaim, followed by a playful attempt to get him to go sit down.

But grandma would agree with me that it is best that we just don't tell Simon what I paid for that sauce...he is a lot like my grandfather in that regard.

Grandpa and Grandma VanderHouwen, 1946

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cook N up a Light Supper: Dijon Pork Tenderloin with Beet and Carrot Slaw

This recipe satisfies a few of my resolutions. It is definately a light and healthy meal (about 300 calories for one broiled tenderloin the size of a deck of cards and one cup of slaw), we can have leftovers for lunch tomorrow- so it is frugal, and it looks and tastes good!

The color of the slaw is vibrant. Beets and Carrots are high in beta carotene - your liver will love them. The beet greens are high in Vitamin C and all three ingredients supply a good quantity of fiber.

The pork is easy to make. Salt and pepper the tenderloin and place it under the broiler. Cook throughly until no pink remains, turning it over to brown each sides. Slather on a dollup of dijon mustard and add a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Place this under the broiler for a few more minutes until nicely browned.

The recipe for the beet and carrot slaw can be found in this month's Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine (pg 21)

Beet & Carrot Slaw

1/4 c fresh orange juice
2T olive oil
2t red wine vinegar
1-1/2 t Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper

Whisk these ingredients together in a large bowl- this is the dressing.

2 medium carrots, peeled and grated.

Add the carrots to the dressing in the large bowl.

1 medium bunch beets with greens (approx. 1lb)

Separate the greens from the beets. Rinse them, dry them and remove the leaves from the stems. Slice the leaves into 1/4 in strips. Peel and grate the beets into a large strainer. Rinse the grated beets until the water runs clear. Squeeze the wet beets dry with a paper towel.

Add the beets and greens to the carrots and dressing. Mix well. Let set for 15 minutes.

Tomorrow Simon and I will have leftover pork and slaw wraps for lunch, along with orange sections and some avocado. I am betting that the flavor of the slaw will intensify a bit more in the fridge over night.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig...

Got in yesterday evening and promptly went to bed. The flight from England was 9.5 hours, and while we were fortunate to be upgraded to more comfortable seats- that is still a long time to be confined on an airplane.

Today we unpacked, did laundry and paid bills. Tomorrow I will spend some time scheming our new years resolution: lose weight.

The biggest challenge will be finding a happy medium between my passion for cooking and my need to get fit. I am going to make a heartfelt attempt to post healthy recipes here, although I am contemplating a once-a-week splurge. One day a week I should be able to eat whatever I want, right?

If there is one thing I know about making positive changes that stick, it is that we must make small changes and not grand sweeping ones. A little more exercise...a little less junk food. My goal is to lose 5lbs per month. I will let you know how that goes.

On the plane home I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about New Years Resolutions. Even though only 18% of people who make resolutions stick to them after 2 years, simply making a resolution improves your chances of success by ten fold. There are many ways to ensure success:
  • Make sure that your goal is specific and realistic
  • Write it down
  • Enlist friends and family to share in your journey, or to simply ask how it is going!
  • Predict the roadblocks and setbacks and plan ahead for these.
  • Be gentle with yourself - allow yourself to begin again. You don't have to be perfect!

On another note....I made a commitment early this year to donate all money earned by the Home Cook N Blog to charity. We didn't make a killing, but Simon and I matched the $20 earned by my blog last year and donated $40 to the American Lung Association in rememberence of Simon's father who passed away in 2008 from Lung Cancer. Thank you to everyone who used the search engine I had provided on my site and who clicked on the ad boxes!

**the beautiful pen and ink drawing on this post is by UK artist, Mike Budden. Please take a moment to enjoy his site at

I really like his bird prints!