...*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.

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!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

CoLd air, WaRm your house, with a CRISP***

...i have returned, married, happy, and ready to write again. To share my journeys and triumphs over food and little bits of knowledge about life. I'm sorry I have been away but i guess I need a bit of a hOLiDay from EVERYTHING that wasn't wedding related, so that i could make clear choices and go forth in my life with unclouded vision of what lay ahead. Well its all over now, and I miss is already, but now i must FoCuS on the things at hand...I have been meaning to come back to blogging several times, but until now I felt like I was LACKING inside what I need to share with you all....well the wait is over, in a warm, gooey, delicious smelling goodness from my oven I found what i needed to speak again...i found my voice again inside a PEAR CRISP and I'm dying to tell you ALL about it!

**FrUiT CriSp**

The best thing about crisp is that the options are nearly limitless....
My first venture into crisp this year was 
#1)PEAR & APPLE, that was deligtfull
#2) APPLE & MaNgo, even better
#3) MaNgo, PeaCh & APPLE, yum yum

What you need to start:
9x9 baking dish
(or whatever you have you can easily scale the recipe to what you need because no measurement is exact!!)
Apple, mango, peach. cherry, strawberry, pear, sweet potato, 
pumpkin, blueberry, banana, rhubarb & the list goes on...
(just stay away from anything like citrus, you can use the zest for flavor, 
but the fruit itself will not hold up!)

cut your fruit up into bite size pieces or slices
(you will need about 4 - 5 cups of fruit)
and put them into a baking dish leaving at least 2" at the top
sprinkle in sugar to sweeten
(**with the mango & peach crisp I put a can of dolce do leche milk, it was AWESOME! you just have to be careful how long you bake it, or it will look weird, but it will continue to taste great! For your second attempt, try it, its YUMMMMMY!**)

in a bowl:
2 c Oatmeal (not steel ground)
3/4 c. flour 
1 c. sugar (I prefer dark brown sugar)
and 1 t of seasoning
this is what I use:
MEXICAN cinnamon 
(you can use whatever kind you have, but i prefer the MEXICAN kind)
anise seed
***I put all those things in my spice grinder mix up a big batch and use it for all kings of sweet things, like pancakes, french toast, even in my coffee filter for a little extra ZIP in my coffee***
and 1 stick of butter, melted

mix all together and pack on top of fruit
then place in a 400 degree oven 
(put a sheet pan underneath just incase it bubbles over, so you don't have to clean to oven!:o) )
bake for about 30 minutes
or until top is golden and insides are BUBBLY! 

remove from the oven, let cool slightly before enjoying so you do NOT burn your mouth!

I love to serve this will vanilla or cinnamon ice cream
or just a nice homemade whipped cream
or greek yogurt!

Try it, you will LOVE IT!


1 c. heavy whipping cream
in the bowl of a mixer
or in a nice big bowl and with an extra arm around when your gets tired :0)
1/2 c. powdered sugar

if you are whipping by hand use a figure 8 motion for maximum results
when if looks delicious, stop!

if you over whip it will look like butter, but still taste good
its good practice to screw it up first, because the next time you will stop before you get there!

HAPPY COOKING, and welcome back!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

soup of the week #6

.....an oldy but a goody

Broccoli Cheese

Start off by sauteing:
1 lg. white onion
3 cloves of garlic, minced
with 3 T. butter
then add in your 2 lg. heads of broccoli
cut into medium sized pieces
(stems and all, just peel them)
saute them all getting as little color as possible, 
so keep the heat at about medium.
add 1/2 c. of flour and 1 T butter (only if needed)
1 T salt
stir till flour is coated
then add in 1 c. white wine
reduce a little 
then add in 1qt. chicken stock
cook until broccoli is tender
then use a hand mixer to puree soup
or put in the blend a little at a time
when soup is pureed to your liking
6 oz. cream cheese
2 c. heavy cream
and if you want 
2 oz white american cheese

stir until cheese is dissolved then season with salt and pepper
i like to serve this with homemade croutons and shredded cheddar cheese
or garlic roasted broccoli florets 

on a rainy spring day, this can take all the blues away!



....so on my journey to getting married i have started a new eating plan to eat more healthy and perhaps loose a pound or two to look great in my dress. Spence is all for it but a little skeptical about the meals...its nothing crazy just eating 5 times a day and  eating more whole foods, no excess sugar or carbs...but last night i WOWED him, he was floored and to tell you the truth so was I. Our meal was so good I woke up craving it this morning. it was simple and it went a little like this...

in a large saute pan:

3-4 T good olive oil
(I really like Greek olive oils, they just taste a little fruitier to me)
get the oil hot and then add:
1# tenderloin peices
(or whatever good lean meat you have)
season your meat heavily with pepper and a little garlic salt
Then use whatever veggies you have around
but this is what i used:
2 stalks of celery, slice
2 small carrots, chopped
1 onion, julienne
1 red pepper, cut in 1" peieces
1/2 bunch of broccoli
start the beef in the pan let it start to sear and then just add your veggies starting with the carrots because they take the longest to cook. 
season the whole dish again with black pepper and garlic salt.
and that is it, make sure you cook the veggies only until they are just tender,
keep the as al dente as possible took keep the most nutrients as possible
And the crunch is SO good!

now for an added bonus I made a yogurt sauce for dipping:
1/4 c. plain yogurt
leaves off 2 stems of fresh oregano
1 green onion
15 cilantro leaves
chop all the herbs and onion and stir into the yogurt, and serve!

....this was such a fantastic and EASY meal 
 it took me about 10 minutes to make the whole thing
and i devoured the whole thing, it was amazing and when it was over i felt good, 
not weighed down or stuffed
you could serve this meal with pitas too go Greek, throw in a few pepperocinis and kalamata olives...
maybe some feta cheese
or serve it with rice like how Spence ate it...
but to be honest with you, i didn't need anything else
it was so simple and good i was happy just eating it as is!

Hope you enjoy it as much as i Did!

Spence said it was one of the best meals I have ever made!!!


Thursday, April 15, 2010

LeT me SeE YoUr Casserole***

...to the left to the left, to right to the right....now dip?

ok now that i have that out of my system lets talk good ol' Midwestern casserole...I love these wonders. They can be made ahead of time, stored in the refrigerator, some even frozen and served at a later date. its a process of deciding what goes in it and what tops it. so here we go with a few of my favorites!

#1) Shepard's Pie

this is a combination of ground meats, onions, carrots, celery, peas (and if i make a few other goodies) that is then topped with mashed potatoes, sound good? i think so!

the ALY version:
Start with 1# ground beef 
(traditionally if you wanted you would use beef and lamb- 
or you could use ground turkey to cut the fat...its really flexible so play around with it!)
1 lg. white onion diced
2 carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, sliced
8 button mushroom, chopped
(or use 1 portobello cap, or same amount of favorite small mushroom)
1 red pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 springs fresh thyme
start by browning your beef in the bottom of the pan, when begins to brown add mushrooms, garlic and onions, then drain excess fat after meat is all cook through. 
Then add remain veggies and roast for a few minutes, then deglaze with red wine maybe one turn around the pan, then add 1 sm. can of tomato paste and 3 T flour.  stir around and brown the tomato paste a bit and get the flour totally coated.
then add in 1 can of diced tomatoes and beef stock to just below being covered
 let this cook until veggies are tender and sauce is thick, 
if need be thicken with a slurry to make it a nice gravy consistancy. 

In a separate pot you will need to be boiling 4 russet potatoes 
and i also like to add in 2 sweet potatoes for a little twist.
You will boil these until tender and mashable.
Mash then up with some cream cheese or sour cream 
and 2 c. cheddar cheese
garlic salt and pepper to taste

When the beef mixture is ready pour it in a baking dish that will be 
deep enough for you to add in a nice layer of mashed potatoes.
i like to sprinkle parmesan cheese on top of the tomatoes, but that is just me.
so just layer the mashed on top of the beef mixture then bake at 400 till the top is golden brown.

if you live alone or are making it just for two or what not try this:
make the casserole in personal sized baking tin, you can buy at the store the small ones for like chicken pot pies, so make it in those an freeze them so you can heat them up for a quick fix meal!

#2)Pot Pie
***with this basic recipe you can make it any pot pie you want,
chicken, veggie, beef, sausage...***

I'm a chicken pot pie kinda girl, so that is where we will start:

start by cooking 2 lg or 4 small chicken breasts (whole) in the bottom of your pan w/ 3 T oil
You will want to cook them on a medium high temp
they will stick, and leave a brown substance on the bottom of the pan
just don't let it burn, this is the yummy flavor.
when the chicken is fully cooked, remove it and let it cool
(when cool dice it up to add back in later)
after removing chicken
2 T oil
1 lg. white onion, diced
2-3 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery diced
1 c. peas
1 c. corn
1 lg. idaho potato, diced

now add whatever veggies you like:
I like to add
butternut squash
red peppers
sweet potato
but add whatever you like, or whatever you have

then deglaze with 1 1/2 c. white wine
add 1/2 c. of flour
2 T. butter
salt & pepper

add back in the diced chicken & just cover with chicken stock
I then like to add a few T of cream just for richness

when the veggies are all cooked and the sauce is thick
you are ready to turn it off and prepare the crust.

(be careful this is a simple dough, and easy to ruin....read carefully and let your hands tell you what is going on, doughs are tough if you don't know what they should look and feel like. In pie crust you will have little chunks of butter, that's ok. once the dough is come together, STOP do not over work it! 
if you don't feel ready to make it, just buy it...or use frozen puffed pastry instead...
or top it will flattened out crescent dough )

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup water 
1. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in food processor. Add butter; process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 8 to 10 seconds. For hand method, place dry ingredients in large bowl. Add butter; blend with pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse meal.

2. Add ice water in a slow steady stream through feed tube of food processor with machine running, until the dough holds together for no longer than 30 seconds. For hand method, mix dough with a wooden spoon, adding water until dough just holds together.

3. Turn dough onto piece of plastic wrap. Press into flat circle, or rectangle depending on what shape you intend to roll out pastry to. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. May be frozen, double wrapped in plastic, for several months.
for the pot pie you will need atleast 2x the recipe if not maybe 3 
I like to cover the bottom of the dish and finish with a layer on top,
but if you just do the top you will only need 1x.

to finish your pot pie:
you will need a baking dish,
butter and flour the inside
then lay a layer of pie dough
tuck it into the corners
then pour in your filling
then layer the dough on top, 
make sure to make a few air holes
bake at 350 till the crust is done and the inside is bubbling!

***note: if you use puff pastry just put it on top, you can put it in the inside, but i have never tried it...
it may bake just the same as pie dough, but i'm not sure!***

#3) Hamburger Casserole
**this holds a special place in my heart 
after begin fed to us for school lunches and served at home as a child...
its good, but it needs a 2010 Aly twist**

Start with 1# ground beef
and brown it in a pan with:
1 lg diced white onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pkg of button mushrooms, chopped
1 portobello, chopped
when fully browned and mushrooms are cooked
about 3 c of green beans cut into 1" pieces
(some places you can find them frozen this size you will need 1 bag.)
1/4 c. flour 
(you may also need a bit of oil or butter to coat flour)
brown this slightly 
then deglaze with
1 1/2 c white wine
then put in 
2 c heavy cream
and 1/2 c water
stir until thickened
then pour into a baking dish
season with salt & pepper
Now traditionally you would use cream of mushroom soup
and then top it with tator tots, which I'm not going to tell you NOT to do, because personally i LOVE tator tots, but i think we could come up with a fancier version, 
but if you want to go retro, 

take a potato and cut it as thinly as you can, you will want to make 2 or 3 layers of potatoes on top of your casserole, you will need to rub them with butter and season them with salt and pepper, you could also mince some garlic and put it between the layers of potatoes to get a roasted garlic taste. also you could add in some parmesan cheese so them will bake up nice and golden brown
Then bake at 400 till the potatoes are tender and golden brown
then perhaps top with some french fried onions that is tossed with some fresh herbs like parsley, basil, and chives or even arugula to make a little salad on top with a lemon and olives oil vinaigrette....
seems a little more chic to me...

there you have it, the classic hamburger casserole REMIX!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

to render***

i thought that i wanted to make a big list of terms on what different cooking terms, but i'm finding that hard to do....I have trouble discerning the terms from the words a, the, it....normal every day words, because they are my everyday words...so i'm going to ask for alittle bit of help from you my faithful readers (Mary i know you have some good ones!) to give me words you don't and i promise to put them into words you can understand...i just have to know what the words are. So please help me discern between the cooking terms and the everyday words, maybe one word at a time and we can both learn something!

to here is a few of the OFFICIAL definitions that i liked:

ren·der [ren-der] 

–verb (used with object)
1)to cause to be or become; make: to render someone helpless  
***(the raw bacon becomes helpless to it better crispy from and leaves behind its wonderful fat)
2)to do; perform: to render a service. 
***(the bacon performs the service of becoming dinner)
3)to exhibit or show (obedience, attention, etc.)
***(bacon exhibits how awesome it is by becoming crispy and swimming in a pool of its own fat)
4)to represent (a perspective view of a projected building) in drawing or painting. 
***(the bacon REPRESENTS!!!)
5)to give back; restore (often fol. by back). 
***(the fatty uncooked bacon is restored to awesome!)
6)to give up; surrender. 
***(the bacon give up, give in, to being awesome enough to be eaten)
Drum roll please, the actual definition is---->
to melt down; extract the impurities from by melting: to render fat. 
now in my words:
rending is the process of extracting the fat from any meat that has fat. it is most commonly used with bacon because the fat from the bacon is usually saved and used. 
When talking about other meats we generally just use the term browning or searing...even though we can mean rendering. 
this is how you render:
when you are rendering bacon i find it best to start with a warm pan, 
place you bacon in the pan 
it shouldn't need any oil 
because when put in a warm pan the bacon will begin to release it fat fairly quickly.
you want to keep a close eye on it
and keep the heat at a moderate temperature 
because as soon as the bacon is swimming in the fat and beginning to brown
you want to either remove the bacon if it is the crispyness you desire
or turn the heat way down so it crisps slow and
doesn't go from crispy to BURNT!

When the rendering is over you are left with 2 products
1)delicious bacon
2) useful and tasty fat

and that my friends is rendering!
***and please take my plea for help honestly and bring my any terms or processes you don't understand, i'm here to help, so help me help you!

Friday, April 9, 2010

sOUp of ThE WeeK #5

...i have to start off by saying I'm sorry. I missed a week, i hate that sometimes work gets in the way of EVERYTHING but it does whether i want it to or not...

There is something so magical about simple soups like vegetable soup, have fun with it add or don't add whatever you like ....just keep the main ingredients in place and it will taste great every time.  I find soups like this one or homemade chicken noodle soul lifting soups, they just seem to make the world a little warmer and scare the chill away that can affect out minds and body when things aren't quiet going our way...so when you need a little pick me up just make a soup and cuddle up and kiss all the bad stuff goodbye...nothing is better for the whole body than a little homemade soup!

------------->this weeks soup is "minestrone"
(...or vegetable soup with pasta,  but i will lightly use)


I start with:
1 lg. white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
sweat this off  in the bottom of your soup pot with 2 T. oil

then add:
2 lg. carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 sm. butternut squash, diced
2 c. green beans, in 1/2" pieces
1 red pepper, diced
4 diced roma tomatoes
1 c. great white northern beans w/ liquid
(*** the liquid helps to thicken the soup***)
Traditionally this is made with kidney beans, 
but i don't really care for them or i opt for white beans 
but you can use kidney beans, or even chickpeas if you like
roast the veggies a little in the bottom of the pan

then deglaze with--->
1 c. white wine
then use water or vegetable stock to cover
1 can of tomato sauce

when simmering add:
1/2 bg. of baby spinach, chopped
1 T. dried basil
1 T. dried thyme
salt and pepper
10 leaves fresh basil
and 1 whatever small pasta you like
(you can use alphabets, stars, little o's, or orzo)

cook until pasta is tender, but  i like to let it sit over night, then bring it back up to a boil and add the pasta and basil at that time...serve and enjoy to wonders of vegetable soup!

bacon love***

....this is a blog for my sister Frannie, and a thank you to her from so many reasons but one thing in particular, broccoli "salad" i use the term lightly until i can come up with another term, but atleast it does have something good for you, broccoli and i LOVE broccoli!

but first things first, the long awaited (on Frannie's behalf)------->
Bacon & Tomato Dressing

5 roma tomatoes, diced
(or 2 beef steak tomatoes)
2 shallots, sliced
8 slices of bacon, chopped
(thicker cut bacon is better)
1/2 c. sherry 
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. cider vinegar
1 c. olive oil
s/p to taste

start by rendering your bacon in a pan then add shallots and tomatoes, then deglaze with sherry and vinegar...then add in sugar and oil and season with salt and pepper.

***serve warm with spinach, Mmmm Mmm good!

Broccoli Salad
(thanks to Frannie, with an Aly twist!)

2 hd. broccoli, 
cut into bite size peices
1 red onion, diced
1 c. raisins, 
rehydrate in 1 c. warm water and 1/2 red wine
(When soft, drain off liquid)
8 slices of bacon, chopped and rendered (save fat)
(I prefer to use the pepper bacon for a little added zip!)
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
(***I love to coat them in a hot pan with sugar, salt, and cayenne! 
its a great addition to any salad, sweet, salty, and crunchy!***)
3 T. sugar
1/2 c cider vinegar
1 c. Mayo
3 T canola oil
1 t onion powder

mix dressing in bottom of bowl adding in the bacon fat, vinegar, sugar, mayo, oil, onion powder and salt...then add in all other ingredients! ToSS & EnJoy....

**best to let it marinate all together for 1/2 hour

...the is THE best BLT mayo of ALL time!

Black Pepper Aioli 
(save the bacon fat from the rendered bacon)
1/8 c. bacon fat
1 c. mayo
3 T cracker black pepper
1 T dijon mustard

Just try it, you will LOVE it!

...to be continued*** 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

gray skies=stew**

...there is nothing better than a nice hearty heart warming stew on a day when the clouds have blocked the sun and the rain just won't go away...so here is a basic beef stew that you just can't beat, really there is nothing better when you just need something warm and delicious...well maybe chicken and dumplings!

BEEF STEW------------------>                      THE FIRST STEP, the meat
start by going to the local butcher and asking him for stew meat, 
ask him to cut you something fresh in 1" cubes.
you will need 2 lbs.
 in a dutch oven or nice heavy bottomed stew pot;
put a few tablespoons of oil and turn the heat on high.
(You will need alot of heat to get nice caramelization on your meat and veg) 
When the pan is hot carefully drop in your meat in an even layer, 
***this is VERY IMPORTANT!!! do not move your meat around,
drop it and let the meat caramelize,
you have to just let it sit, once it is browned turn the pieces over***
You will need to control the heat to keep it hot enough to brown the meat but not burn the pan....just turn the heat down and up as needed, pay attention----

While the meat is browning:
Chop up---->
1 lg. white onion (or 2 small)
3 carrots
3 stalks of celery
3 parsnips
1 sweet potato
2 russet potatoes
1 or 2 turnips
1 lg. red pepper
1 lg. portobello

After the meat is turned over;
 add in your onion, portobello, carrot and celery
At this point you want to start to brown the veggies to enhance the flavors 
and create a nice fond on the bottom of your pan

((***Fond: is the stuff (caramelized meat juices) that starts to brown and stick to the bottom of your pan when what you are cooking releases its own natural juices....this is what gives GREAT flavor to soups and stews!***))

You don't want to cook your veggies all the way just start to cook them, at this point add 3 T butter and 1/2 c. of flour to make a little rue in the bottom of the pan to help thicken the stew and give it great flavor. when you have that all mixed up and the flour is coated in butter deglaze the pan with 2 c. red wine. Make sure to scrap the bottom of your pan with a wooden spoon to get all that goodness from the bottom into your stew, then add the rest of your veggies, cover with water, add 2 bay leaves, 6 sprigs of fresh thyme, 1 T. fresh cracked black pepper, and 2 T. salt. Then let this all simmer on med-low until the meat is tender, re-season with salt and pepper and you are good to go. Serve it up with some nice bread for dipping and a really big spoon, curl up in the couch with a blanket, bring the bowl close to your face so you can smell it, and REALLY really REALLY enjoy it!

GOODBYE gray sky blues...HELLO STEW!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

smoooooothie operator***

....i love to make fruit smoothies they are so refreshing and awesome...they are great for a snack, or with a little protein powder great for breakfast to get your morning started off right or at night to end your day on a light note so you don't go to bed on a full stomach.

Lime & Banana

this smoothie is my favorite, i have been making it since i was just a kid experimenting in the kitchen.

To start i use limeade 
(the frozen one if you can find an all natural one that does not have high fructose corn syrup, YUCK! Whole foods has one, Trader Joes might too)
I use 1/4 of the container, or use 1/2 c. Simply Limeade (it will be less limey)
1 frozen banana (if you use fresh you will need more ice)
1/2 c. Simply Apple
6-8 ice cubes

***These are great to use as a frozen drink if you add tequila and/or malibu....
even just a white rum...or vanilla vodka...maybe some amaretto...so many possibilities!***

Tropical  Delight

I have found that at the store you can find just about anything frozen...I really like to use frozen fruit in place of most of the ice that is needed to make them taste awesome. Also i like to get ice from the store for a few reasons 1)it is flash frozen so it is frozen quicker and does not taste like your freezer 2) you can get the smaller cubes so they blend up better... 3) they are just better...i'm not sure why its just what i have decided.

1/2 c. mango
(all fruit frozen or fresh)
1/4 c. pineapple
1/2 banana
1/4 c. coconut milk
1/8 c. Simply apple
1/8 c. Simply limeade
6-8 ice cubes (or 1 c. store bought ice)

**this is a really good one to add vanilla protein powder to if you want to add a little protein or use it as a meal replacement.**

Strawberry Breeze

 1 c. frozen unsweetened strawberries
1 c. lemon sorbet
1/2 c. simply limeade
1/4 c. Simply Apple
1 c. ice
(you could add vanilla ice cream if you wanted, it would be DELICiOUS!)

blend, and ENJOY!!!!

Put a lime in coconut

1 c. Coconut milk
1 c. Vanilla ice Cream (or coconut)
1 1/2  c. Ice
1/2 c. Simply Limeade
1/2 banana

yum yum blend and fall inlove <3


Sunday, March 28, 2010

soup of the week #4

...this week on soup of the week i thought that i would share with you a simple and delicious soup butternut squash soup, its so easy, its so good, and good for you! Ok here it goes-

this is how you start-------------------------->
cut up 2 medium butternut squahes
2 granny smith apples
1 lg. white onion
2 garlic cloves
put all of this in your soup pot
then add 2 cups white wine
and cover with water
add 2 bay leaves
some fresh cracked black pepper
let all of this simmer away with the butternut is soft
then blend it up
season with salt
add 1 1/2 c. heavy cream
and 4 T butter

there you have it, DELICOUSNESS!

you could put fresh granny smith apples and blue cheese crumbles
a tartare of fresh strawberries and fresh thyme
bacon, caramelized onions and mushrooms


You could turn this into a whole other soup!

Make the soup above
and then do this:
brown bacon
1 white onion diced
2 stalks celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups corn
in a blender puree 3 c corn with 1 c heavy cream 
and salt pepper
then deglaze pan with 1 can of beer 
(or white wine if you would rather)
add puree
and 1 1/2 qts. of butternut soup

season....and there you have it...sweet corn chowder!

its a TWO-fer!!!

HAPPY & JOYOUS cooking!

Friday, March 26, 2010

hot TiP #5:::>

....tip number 5 is....make your food look pretty...before you taste and even smell, you eat with your eyes...so pay attention to how things look, the colors you have on your plate...the plate you use...You can use everyday things you have around your  house to mold food to make it look better...take a coffee cup and spray it with pam and then mold rice it it...or potatoes. Try stacking things or putting them on the plate in a way to make a focal point...just take an extra few minutes to cut up a garnish or add a flourish to make the feast with for your eyes as DELiCiOUS as the one in your tummy!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

on The SiDe**conTiNUed

....where did we leave off?!?! maybe right around warm mushroom salad and a creamed onion trio (doesn't sound too good....but oh man it is!!!) well lets not wait another minute, lets get this party started!

Warm Mushroom Salad
Take your favorite assortment of mushrooms
or whatever you can get your hands on!
Just a few kinds to think about if you can find them:
(even buttons if nothing else)
but those 4 are my favorite and pretty easy to find!

You will need like 5-6 cups of mushroom for 4 servings!
1 red onion, diced
2 gloves garlic, minced
1 c. diced tomato
1/2 bag of roughly chopped spinach

In a bowl mix together:
1 shallot, minced
1/2 t. ground pepper
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/2 t. dried basil
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/4 garlic powder
2 T. sugar
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1 T. dijon mustard
and 1 c. olive oil

In a saute pan start the mushrooms with 4 T oil, put them in the pan and leave them until they start to brown, don;t touch them don't move them around just let them be. When they start to brown, season with salt pepper and add the rest of the veggies, when all tender and looking fabulous, add to the vinaigrette...and if you want add some goat cheese or parmesan...and you are GOOD TO GO! If you want to get REALLY really fancy top with a poached egg....yumm yum!

Creamed Onion Trio

This is how you start:
4 leeks, half mooned
1 white onion, diced
4 shallots, sliced
2 cloves garlic. minced 

put all of this in a pan that has a lid with 2 T oil (when pan is hot) and then add 5 T butter, you do not want to brown the onions and garlic at all...
You will need to keep stirring the onions on and off every few minutes to keep from sticking
but aside from seasoning that is about all you need.
but i like to finish with 1 T butter and 1 T cream (or cream cheese)
and a handful of parmesan... this is GREAT with a piece of salmon...YUM! it might not sound awesome...but try it...it is!!!

HAPPY EATING, cReaTiVe CooKiNG, and enjoy the aroma!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

on The SiDe**

...so we can all come up with wanting to make some kind of chicken, or steak, or perhaps even fish...but the real question is what do you serve with it...what are your options and how do you get out of a rut of baked potatoes, or rice, or anything else that doesn't sound exciting...well i've given you the ins and outs of making risotto or succatash or cous cous, so.... what else do i have, i have a few things up my sleeve. how about green beans almondeen (with a twist) or a hot potato salad....maybe creamed onion trio, warm mushroom salad (i do love my mushrooms...extra protein and lots of flavor- i am in!!!)...just for a start!

Green Beans

You can do these beans a few ways:
In a hot pan saute with
3T olive oil 
add raw green beans
1/2 pkg. grape tomatoes, cut in 1/2
1 shallot, sliced
(you can pre-cook them if you don't like them aldente, 
but i like them a little crisp and i like them to get a little brown from the pan)
while those are cooking make a quick vinaigrette,
zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 T. olive oil
1 green onion, chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
2 srpigs fresh oregano, chopped
and lots of fresh ground pepper
1/4 c. toasted almonds
(i like the sliced ones with the skin on, or crushed whole ones!)
Mix the vinaigrette together minus the almonds and pour it in the pan when the green beans and tomatoes are to the texture you like
then add almonds to finish!

so you know that you can take out whatever part of these green beans you don't like this is just my version...so make it work for you...but on we go-

so start the beans just like above, but leave out the tomatoes and shallots, 
and add in water chestnuts and red peppers (diced)
For the vinaigrette use:
2 T. Soy sauce
2 T hoisin sauce
1 t. sambal (thai chile paste)
zest and juice of 1 lime
4 T toasted sesame oil
2 green onion, chopped
7 leaves basil, chopped
2 T chopped cilantro
then toss it all together,  
you can use almonds again, 
or i prefer cashews!

OK there are 2 ways to make green beans, i'm sure i could think of many more...but i have so much more to share- next stop, potato salad!!~
Potato Salad

I love hot German potato salad..so we will start there and then go to other places!!!

I like to start with yukon gold potatoes, i just love the flavor, 
but you can use Idahos or red potatoes if you like- 
if you wanna get REALLY funky get the rainbow colored fingerling potatoes 
(white, red, purple)....really whatever you want! 

so for any version of my potato salads you will start in the same place;
1) wash your poatoes
2) fill your pot with how much potatoes you want
(i leave the skin on)
3)cover with water
4) add salt, more than you think
5) put over high heat, bring to a boil, then turn down just a little 
and boil until potatoes are tender, it is really important not to over cook them.
(take one out, stab it with a fork if you can stab it and pull it out with no problem, they are done)
it is normally about 45 minutes for a full pot. 
You can do this a day or 2 in advance if you like...you will just have to reheat them, or you can use potatoes from another meal....
 After the potatoes are cooked drain water, and carefully slice them.

All dressings below are based on 7 sliced yukon golds (reds are about the same unless you used the baby ones, then it will be about 14), which is equal to 5 russet potatoes, and 1 bag of fingerlings.

German Dressing
   2 c. cider vinegar
3/4 c. sugar
1 T. mustard powder
1/2 c. canola oil
1 lg. white onion, sliced
1/2 # bacon, chopped up
 salt and pepper to taste

Start by cooking bacon and onion in a saute pan, when bacon is browned (but not quite crispy) deglaze with vinegar, add sugar, and mustard, than add oil and season.
Then toss with potatoes while still hot!

Goat Cheese Dressing
10 oz. goat cheese
4 springs fresh thyme (just leaves)
1/2 c. Sherry vinegar
1 c. sour cream
1/2 olive oil
1 c. Parmesan cheese (shaved)
2 T honey
1 T dijon mustard
1/2 pkg. grape tomatoes, 1/2ed
1/2 red onion, diced

in a saute pan:
sweat onions and tomatoes, deglaze with vinegar, add honey, mustard, thyme, and oil- 
(TURN OFF HEAT) then stir in sour cream and drop in bits of goat cheese.
then toss with potatoes and parm...finish with cracked fresh black pepper....and enjoy!

Italian Dressing
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 c capers
1 c ricotta cheese
1/4 c chopped basil
1/4 c sliced olives (whatever kind you like best)
1/2 diced red onion
4 cloves roasted garlic, chopped
1/2 c. olive oil

sweat onions, add capers, olives, tomatoes, roasted garlic, and ricotta cheese- then stir in oil....toss with the potatoes, and basil...season with salt and pepper and VIOLA there you have it!

ok the rest of the sides with have to wait till tonight...
i got a little long winded and i need to leave for work! 

stay tuned...
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