...*a glimse into the daily life of a chef*...

...this blog is a place for me to record and reflect the passion that i put into my everyday life.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

a busy Mom's guide to Dinner at 5***

-day two and going strong! its amazing what some time to myself ca lead me to do!

I typed all this to help a friend out that is having trouble getting dinner ready for her family, getting her house cleaned, getting ready for work and still finding time to play with her gorgeous daughters, but I realize that i am sure there are a TON of other people out there having the same issues, so here are some easy recipes that will help you out- they are customizable to what you like to eat and they are simple so you can get home cooked meals and not spare one second of time with your children!

Taco Pie

1# ground beef
1 can fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles
1 small can tomato sauce or salsa of any kind
1 small yellow onion
1 can corn or 1/2 bag frozen
1 pkg. taco seasoning (i love the chi chi's brand, but whatever you like will be just fine *or my blend 1/2 tbsp cumin, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp onion powder*)
1 package corn tortillas
2 c. cheddar cheese (or your favorite melting cheese)

1. cook ground beef and onions until done then add corn, taco seasoning and tomatoes, mix well

2. in cake pan start with a small amount of sauce and meat on the bottom to keep from sticking, then layer tortilla, meat, cheese for 3 layers of tortilla and end with cheese.

At this point you can freeze it, double the recipe and make 2 if you want, or make more and give it to a friend, its a simple dish that bakes up in like 35 minutes and take just minutes to prepare top it with lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, sour cream and salsa you have a great well rounded meal, for added protein you could add black beans to the meat if you wanted, even use ground turkey for less fat.

(I like to use a pyrex baking dish because they generally have lids and can go from freezer to oven or you can use the aluminum pans, whatever works best for you, i guess that way no dishes, win win!)


Lasagna, Aly-Style

1 box no cook lasagna sheets
1# meat (you can use ground turkey, beef, or sausage of your liking, whatever works best for you)
1 onion
1 jar of pasta sauce, whatever you like (I like the brailla sauce with roast garlic, or go crazy and get a vodka sauce, that works too.)
2 c. mozzarella
1 c. Parmesan
1 12oz. pkg cream cheese or ricotta if you like
(the thing i love about lasagna is you can hide veggies in it and almost no one will care. You can use: shredded carrots, zucchini, mushrooms....whatever you like and want to put in there just cook it with the meat so it takes on some of its flavor)

then layer just the same way as above noodles, sauce, meat, cheese (i just dollop the cream cheese throughout just for added creamy-ness you can leave it out if you like) save the parmesan for the very top because it makes a great crust, then cover and freeze or back at 350 for 40-45 minutes until hot.

You could easily make this recipe 3X or 4X and freeze them for days when you just don't have an extra minute...we can't be super mom every day, but that doesn't mean you can't cook a hot meal if you just thinks ahead.

Quick and Easy, for days you have a few minutes to spare!


Baked Chicken & Potatoes

Enough chicken for your family, we are dark meat people but if you prefer breasts that works too, whatever you like. Season liberally with Salt and pepper, and any seasoning mix you like herbs and such there are tons of great poultry seasoning out there, just find one that sounds good!

1 lg. idaho potatoes
1 lg. sweet potato
1 onion
2 carrots

Cut them all into about 1" pieces just make sure they are all about the same size, then toss them in 3 tbsp oil and french onion seasoning packet (trader joes has one that isn't full of lots of crap!)

Put them in the bottom of a baking dish and then layer the chicken on top and 2 Tbsp butter cut into pieces.

Put in a 375 oven for 35 minutes or until chicken is done.

I love to serve this with a yogurt or sour cream dipping sauce that i load up with all the favorite fresh herbs...but honestly it tastes great on its own and it makes the house smell de-lish!


Fried Rice (We call if Spence Fried Rice because my husband makes it even better then me!)

Either cook some chicken ahead or use whatever you have from left overs beef, chicken, turkey...anything you like will work.

1 c. rice, cooked according to pkg. generally 1 rice to 2 water & salt

Get a large sautee pan hot, add 3 tbsp Oil
then add rice (it's best if you cook the rice and let it cool, but it will work hot too you just have to work faster!)
STIR frequently!
add 1/4 c. soy sauce or teryaki sauce I love Soy-Vay
2 eggs scarambled
1/2 c. peas
1/4 c. shredded carrots
and your meat of choice cut up
stir till everything is hot, then remove from heat!

WE like to then top if with, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, green onions & cashews....but use whatever you like. or nothing at all....it really easy and fast if you prepare ahead.

When you make dinner with about cooking extra to make into another meal, or cooking pieces a day in advance so you can spend less time cooking and more time with those BEAUTIFUL girls!

Ok one last recipe that i got from my mom:

Sadie Soup

1# ground beef
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1pkg. onion soup mix
1 lrg. can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 can of water after you dump the tomatoes
1 potato, chopped
2 tbsp sweet dried basil
salt & pepper
1/2 c. barley

you really can put this all but the barley in a crock pot and let it cook for hours just break up the meat and stir occasionally to make sure it is cooked through, add the barely 15 minutes before serving....

Enjoy, hope any of it helps.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

HoW DiD ThEy Do That?!?!

....i feel like the servers come into the kitchen all the time and ask us how we do things or a customer wants to know how things are done. I've been away from my blog for far too long, its a little disheartening and a little embarrassing, but i figure after a year it was time to return, swallow my pride and keep on trudging through.

so i sit here trying to think of what people always want to know, but i find myself stumped and at a loss for words, but i know there have to be things out there. so i a going to start with a few basics that will help you thins holiday season and if you find yourself thinking, "how do they do that?!?!" then don't be shy, ask and i promise to tell you the best that I can.....because folks, i'm back or at least i'm trying to be!

first things first- if you are going to cook a turkey you need to know 2 things:

#1) BRINE that bird, it tastes WAY better
#2) DO NOT over cook it, take it out when the juices run clear or use a thermometer you should take it out around 165 and let it rest to 180, don't slice it right away, let it rest so the juices stay inside and don't end up on the kitchen floor!
#3) ok i have a few more things, you can stuff the bird, you won't kill anyone, you just have to temp the stuffing to make sure it is 165 degrees too, believe you me, its worth it!
#4) to get GREAT flavor in your turkey, rub it down with butter- take 1 stick of butter and your favorite fresh herbs (mine you ask- thyme, tarragon, cilantro & oregano) and some salt & pepper, mix it all up then get your hands dirty lift the skin away from the meat, GENTLY and rub the butter down in there as far as you can. This does 2 things, helps to crisp the skin, and flavors the meat....nothing wrong with ANY of that!

basic brine:

1 gallon water
1 cup kosher salt
½ cup granulated sugar
5 ea. black peppercorn
1 ea. dry bay leaf
2 ea. sprig thyme

can brine over night, for a normal turkey you may need 2 gallons worth

Herb Butter:

1/2 c butter, softened
1 sprig thyme, chopped
2 sprigs oregano, chopped
1 sprig tarragon, chopped
3 sprigs cilantro, chopped
1 glove garlic, choped
black pepper

mix it all up!
Really good for garlic bread too!!

Part 2- Tricks to a GOOD gravy!

#1) Use the juices from the turkey, do whatever you can to save as much of the juices as you can! 
#2) use roux not cornstarch (what is roux you ask, oh i will tell you!)
#3) save some potato water (don't worry i'll get there)
#4) don't be afraid to use herbs and SALT, and my fav, black pepper!

What is a Roux (pronounced Ra-OO) 

Well it is a beautiful mixture of fat and flour that can be used to thicken sauces, soups, stews....
just about anything! 

1# butter
1# flour

that is the basics, but if you really want to make it taste good, you get FANCY!
cooking bacon or sausage for something, save the fat ad a little bacon fat to the roux, WAY better.

so here is how it goes
put your cold butter in a pan, let it melt
then stir in your flour until it is the consistency or wet sand 
(you will know it when you see it)

once you put in the flour you need to keep stirring so it doesn't burn, you want to cook it for a few minutes just to make sure that the fat &strach and bound and won't break, but don't let it get color.
(*** SIDE NOTE: if you want to make creole food and need to thicken your sauce, they use a DARK roux which is made by cooking your roux for a while so the flour can toast...
it would be the color of milk chocolate..just and FYi***)

The important thing about using roux is you need to know that when you add it to your liquid it needs to come to a complete boil and then simmer for 5-10 minutes just to ensure there is no flour taste left.

How to make the gravy:

Collect all the turkey juices you can, put them in a pot
if you need more gravy you can use chicken stock 
(what you need to do is, but in double the amount you think you will need and then let it reduce so you can get a better flavor!)
Also add the 1 cup of potato water you saved because the potato starch will give your gravy a silky texture.
then add 2 tbsp. butter
some fresh herbs like thyme and oregano if you have some left
fresh black pepper to your liking
and salt, bring to a boil
and whisk in the roux
add it a Tbsp at a time until it is the thickness you like
it will need to boil before it begins to thicken
and stir regularly so the bottom doesn't burn...

Hope that makes sense!

Hope this helps all of you on your Holiday cooking Adventure!

I know its 2011 and people these days seem to be going out more and more, but honestly cooking with the family is some of my fondest memories....you will remember them for a life time. No better time to learn to cook than now, but by all means if you want to go out and make people work on there holiday, be my guest, but me (its my birthday) so i will be celebrating our freedom, my birth, and playing games till i can't take it anymore...i love the food, the way it smells and even when its not great i love the laughs...so do my a favor and just try, and if you fail have a back up plan, but cooking is only as scary as you make it!




Wednesday, November 17, 2010


by request, chicken noodle...I made it tonight, it was REALLY REALLY good. There is nothing better than a nice bowl of warm soup on a cold day or when you aren't feeling like yourself...they may have found that chicken soup isn't a medicine to make you better, its more like laughter it lifts your spirits and warms your soul to promote healing...just a small step towards a better feeling you...share the warmth with those you care about, and while you share it, laugh, smile & love.

AlyseMarie's Chicken Noodle

start with a nice big soup pot
(I love my le crueset pot, and the knock off's are great too. 
They hold heat well and look nice too, mine just makes me want to cook!)
get the pot nice and hot
2 T. olive oil
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
it will splatter and you want to keep all the juices aka flavor in pan
(you can use breasts, but they don't have as much flavor and they get a little dryer)
on medium high heat
sear the thighs well on both sides
then add:
1 yellow onion, diced
2 lrg. carrots, sliced
3 stalks of celery, julienne
1 small red pepper, diced
1 T garlic, minced
season with salt & pepper
cook the veggies a little then cover with water
(about 3 qts. depending on size of pan)
simmer everything together for about 20 minutes
remove chicken, cut up and put back
then add:
1 can organic white bean, 1/2 of liquid (to help thicken broth)
1 can organic creamed corn
1 pkg. powdered chicken stock mix
(*****i get an organic gluten free one at my local grocery store, 
but feel free to leave it out or add regular chicken base******)
1 T. black pepper
1 T. sweet basil
1/4-1/2 box of pasta depending on preferance
(i like to use rice pasta or quinoa pasta, SO GOOD and guilt free!)
Feel free to add more water at any point and adjust seasoning, I prefer more stuff to broth, but make it just how you like it!
Let simmer till pasta is ready, season and taste!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

i love bananas

....the much talked about and waited recipe for banana oatmeal muffins...i will give you 2 versions, my favorite version and my lazy version! there is no shame in short cuts, if the end result is ALMOST as delicious! i love when people are excited for me to put up a recipe, this is why i do this, for people to have a bit of my knowledge...i hope you can find things here that make you happy and full...that's my goal everyday to make people happy, and food seems to do the trick, so i hope each recipe can make you and your loved ones very happy...because they sure make me happy, or they wouldn't be on here!

banana oatmeal muffins

the best way....

1 1/2 cups wheat flour

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

3/4 cup milk (use vanilla almond milk)

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup mashed bananas

now if you  want:

add 1/2 cup chopped nut, or mini chocolate chips


now the easy way:

buy a box of jiffy banana muffin mix
add 1/2 cup oatmeal
1 RIPE banana, mashed
and then follow the box
mix, bake, and enjoy

they are LOVELY!

the jiffy muffin mixes make GREAT pancakes...stay tuned for my famous corn pancakes!

HAPPY COOKING, and even happier eating!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010



...thought that i would try something a little different ice cream. this is more of a custard style ice cream, fairly easy and tremendously delicious! You really don't get much better than this, but you will just have to try it and become a believer all one your own. do it once, and you will fall inlove if you make it right, its a little tricky but practice makes PURRRRfect, so try and then try again until you love it!

this is a basic custard style ice cream recipe, add whatever flavor you want...

this recipe is meant to also get 2 c. of caramel, so add whatever sweetness you need at it will not get OVER sweet.

1c. Sugar
1 qt. cream
1 qt. milk
lemon peel
18 yolks (no whites)

bring sugar, lemon peel, cream & milk to a boil, then turn off heat and  whisk in yolks, then put back on heat and whisk until thick....do not stop stirring, or it will burn!


ps. if you don't understand, ASK! I love to help!

Happy CooKinG!!!

just a few ideas:
pretzel & guiness
peanut butter cup
cinnamon & apple
peach cobbler
the list goes on and on
give me your ideas and i will tell you how to

Monday, October 18, 2010

SoUp of ThE WeeK***

....after weeks & months of being gone soup of the week is back, so with no further ado

this is done my way. after eating some french onion soup I thought to myself that there are a few things i really don't like about french onion soup so i set out to change it. I will tell you how to make it the old fashioned & traditional way and then I will give you my additions....either way, it will be lip smacking good, i have no doubt.....READY?!?!?!

In your soup pot:
4 T olive oil 
5 yellow onions, julienne
(if you see a sign that says sweet or videlia onions, get those, for this the sweeter the better)
  keep your flame at medium
when the onions start to turn from white to a more clear color
add 2 T salt & 2 T sugar
(for the sugar I use just plain white sugar, but you can use brown or even agave nectar if you are trying to avoid the sugar all together, you could even use honey if you so desire)
this will take a while but you want to sweat out the onions 
and start to caramelize them
stir the onions every couple of minutes
the salt will help to release the natural sugars of the onions
and the sugar will aid in the caramelizing.
3 T minced garlic
When the onions are clear-ish and a rich brown color,
but BEFORE they burn
deglaze with 2 c. of sherry
and 2 c. red wine
add 4 springs of thyme 
(fresh is best, but if you must use dry, 1 T will do)
2 bay leaves
reduce by 1/2
then add 2 qts beef stock
(or enough stock to fill your soup pot)
my  first revision/addition
in my perfect world 
(the one I only know in my head)
i could braise say a rump roast, or pot roast, even a short rib or 2
shred the meat and use the meat and braising liquid 
as part of the base for the soup
i think that the lack of stuff in FRENCH ONION SOUP 
is what leaves me a little lack luster
so for my additions, i add stuff, heartiness 
and the first one is shredded beef
 (in case you have never made a pot roast or
at a loss when I say braise, I will put the recipe below! :o) )
after adding the stock let the soup simmer for no less then a 1/2 hour
this will give time for all of the flavors to come together
second addition:
add all these things when you add the stock, 
before simmering--->
carrots, chop them up in nice a small dice
so them will go along with the soft onions and beef 
and not take too long to cook
not only do the carrots add texture but also flavor and sweetness
1 can chopped green chiles
i just like the flavor, its different and good...
its my things and this is my recipe!
1 can dice tomatoes, juice & all
after it simmers this is when you want to adjust for seasoning
i like to add salt and FRESH ground black pepper
at this time also try to fish out the thmye stems & bay leaves

now this is another place where i like to stray, I don't care for the slice of bread on top, i like croutons.
I don't want to have to cut up the soggy bread in my nice hot soup at the risk of burning myself 
when the risk of burning the inside of my mouth is HIGH enough!

I prefer nice homemade herb & garlic croutons
take french bread or old buns or hoagie rolls
and dice them up about 1/2" pieces
then toss them in oil, thyme, garlic powder Or fresh of you prefer, & salt
then bake at 350 
for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy

so top your bowl of soup with a small handful of croutons and 
cover with swiss cheese of greyere cheese
and place under the broiler to get the cheese all melty

when removing the bowl if will be VERY HOT!
place on a plate and ENJOY!

this is how i like to start,
take whatever meat you want to use,
(pot roast, rump roast, short ribs)
and season it well with salt and pepper
you can also coat it with flour if you want to create a nice thick sauce,
but personally I prefer to leave the flour out.
Get you pan nice and hot add oil to the bottom,
enough to coat.
then place your roast in the pan.
You are trying to caramelize the meat so DO NOT TOUCH
just let it be fore maybe 5 minutes before turning, then rotate the meat 
until all sides are nice and brown.
turn down the heat and add 3 c. red wine
(buy cheap red wine 2 buck chuck works fine
or keep bottom parts old bottles)

then add 1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
and 4 stalks of celery, chopped
4 garlic gloves
2 T peppercorns
2 bay leaves
4 springs fresh thyme
then cover with beef stock 

place in your oven covered at 350
for 3-5 hours depending on size of meat
just check randomly you can't over cook it, only under cook
when you can pull the meat apart with a fork, its done

let cook to room temp, strain liquid and reserve the liquid for your soup, then shred meat....

and it also makes your house small great and feel nice and warm & cozy!
such a great fall dish!


Sunday, October 17, 2010


...i know you are asking yourself; self, what could aly-nitas be, well let me tell you, that is CARNITAS aLy-stLye- Now I hear the second question (unless you are someone lucky enough to have experienced carnitas) WHAT ARE CARNITAS? well let me tell you-

in the words of the GREAT wikipedia:

Carnitas, literally "little meats", is a type of braised or roasted (often after first being simmered) pork in Mexican cuisine.
Pork carnitas is traditionally made using the heavily marbled, rich 'boston butt' or 'picnic ham' cuts of pork. Contrary to their misleading names, these are neither rump or ham areas, but rather the upper and lower sections of the front shoulder of the hog. The 6–16 lb (3–7 kg) sections are usually cut down to a workable (6–10 lb) size and seasoned heavily before slow braising or slow roasting, generally in the range of 160 to 180 °F for 8 to 12 hours. At this stage the collagen in the meat has broken down sufficiently to allow it to be pulled apart by hand or fork or chopped with a cleaver.
Prior to serving, the pork, along with some of the rendered liquid, is placed in fairly shallow pans to maximize surface area, then roasted at high (375 to 425 °F or 190 to 220 °C) heat for a few minutes to produce the desired alternating texture of succulent softness and caramelized crispness. 

so that is what they say, but this is what i say:

here is goes-


take about a 5# pork shoulder

and rub it with the seasoning below and let sit for 2-12 hours
(the longer it sits, the more flavor it has...its up to you, its AWESOME either way!)

1/4 c. salt
1/2 c. sugar
1 T Mexican Oregano
1 T black pepper
1 T cumin
1 T ancho power
1 T minced garlic

mix it up and rub it on!

After you have marinated your meat, 
put the pot you plan to braise it in on the stove 
and turn the heat up high
let the pan get hot w/ 3 T oil, then place the meat in the pan GENTLY
let it sit and get nice and golden brown
then flip it over

then add:
1 bottle of light beer 
1 bottle of dark beer (like Guiness)
1 can diced tomatoes w/ liquid
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 onion chopped
2 oranges cut in half, squeeze then add rind too
2 T salt

then carefully put in your oven at 400 degrees
let cook for 1 hour, then flip meat
cook for another hour, flip
then let go for one more hour
when the meat is falling apart its ready to be Enjoyed!

its best if you let it sit in its juices over night and serve the next day, 
but if you are like me, you can't wait that long!!!

but before you eat it all try this, take the picked pieces and put it in a pan with hot oil and crisp it up a bit, it get crispy and SO SO so yummy...
I like to serve this just with corn tortillas, sour cream, chopped onion, & cilantro...
maybe come pinto beans...

but the options are limitless really...

you could put it on a homemade pizza, serve with rice and beans, put in fried rice, use in a pasta, top nachos with it, make a torta aka a Mexican sandwich...


take a bolillo 
(really awesome savory mexican bread, kind of like the most KICKASS hamburger bun EVER!)
cut in 1/2
on the bottom put re-fried beans
then lettuce
the the meat of your choice
and on the top, mayo

then put it in a hot pan with a little oil and weight the top down
(i like to use a brick covered in aluminum foil, 
or you can use an other saute pan, or cast iron sandwich weight)

then cut in 1/2 and ENJOY! yum yum!