Kooking with Kelsi~Coconut Cake Edition

Today I spent some time baking an extremely difficult recipe with my incredibly cool friend, Kelsi. As we went through the process of toasting coconut (burning it the first time and dang…..it STUNK!) whipping egg whites, incorporating butter, and 250 degree simple syrup to create a buttercream frosting….we talked. We talked a lot actually. We discussed my gal-pals personal life and what was going on in her incredibly hectic nursing world. We also chatted about how I am doing with the process of creating life, acupuncture, family, and a job that seems to get more and more demanding by the day. Really, we covered it all. Yes, we may have even gossiped, about what…. I will never tell!

Then…..something came up. Kelsi said “what are you going to write about on this blog entry?” I was really surprised that I didn’t know what I wanted to write about. I said something like “maybe about how hard the coconut was to toast or how important it is to read the directions if you are making buttercream frosting.” or something lame like that. Kelsi said she thought that I should talk about cooking with “love.” Now, I am not one of those hokey people who gets into sprinkling things with an “extra dash of sunshine” but my ears perked up. She went on to explain that as a single girl she doesn’t cook a lot, just simple meals for her self, but if she is cooking for other people, entertaining, she slows down, she is conscientious and wants it to be perfect. She wants people to feel that she cares, to feel loved.

You know how someone says something simple, and you just kind of stop in your tracks and realize that a huge truth is in front of you? I really understood what she said. I try to explain to people all the time about baking and cooking and what it does for me…the calmness of chopping something perfectly, how the smell of cookies baking makes a house a home, how spending 3 hours on cinnamon rolls and putting one on a plate then watching my husband devour it in 3 seconds absolutely fills me with a joy that is overwhelming. I spend most of my free time in my kitchen, pouring over cookbooks, making our regular meals, trying new recipes, but I rarely pick something because it is something I like. I pick food for other people. I actually have really simple taste. But working with all those crazy, strange and interesting ingredients is so seductive! Creating something that you know your friends will love is heaven!

EPIPHANY OF THE DAY:

For Missy…..Cooking and Baking is Love

One last note. After you have attempted and failed to make buttercream frosting…pull 2 tubs of pre-made out add some coconut extract, and ice that sucker up. More to come. I will post the recipe and photos when my new site is up and running. Tata food-friends!

Dear Cheese, I love you. Love, Missy


My love and adoration for cheese borders on an obsession. Cheese is truly one of my favorite foods. I like them all! Swiss, cheddar, bleu, ricotta, pepper jack, colby, brie (just got the shivers) and so on….It is a sick and twisted love affair. I can sit and eat 4 slices of american processed cheese back to back… Brie…if you dont watch me I will eat a whole box of triscuits and an entire wedge of brie. What I am saying is that I DO NOT discriminate. If it is a cheese product, it is welcome in my mouth.

What is the point of this ode to cheese? I will tell you. It is cram-packed with fat. The absolute fastest way to increase the calories on your plate is to add cheese. This does not deter us. We will sprinkle it on eggs, apple pie, pollenta, beef, you name it, we cheese it. So what to we do? How are we supposed to elude being part of the now 70% of American population who are considered obese? I will not feed you a line of crap like “moderation” or “only you can be responsible for you” I will give you what a crazed, whacked-out cheese junky (me) does.

I purchase 2 products on a very regular basis:
1. The Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss Cheese (they come in the little round boxes) they are preportioned and at 35 calories a pop, I can melt these on my healthy brown rice and chicken and not think twice!! I learned about these from my colleague Dana M. (thanks Dana!) They are not only low calorie, but cute as hell.
2. Mini Babybel Light Cheese Rounds (these are the ones in the wax that are also individually wrapped) They are 50 calories and have that satisfying cheesey taste you long for and are perfect with an apple or crackers! The adorable factor is incredibly high on these as well.

I will note that both of these products are made by the same company. I want stock.

So, friends, keep on eating cheese! Try my little treats next time if you are looking to cool down the calories but truly need that cheese. By need, I really mean you may die if you don’t get it.

4 hours…How do I fit it all in?


I think we all go through this. For us it may seem easier with no children but we have filled that extra space in with demanding jobs, busy social schedule, and a lot of community focus (mostly for hubbys high school) One day I will be all whirled up in children, but don’t kid yourself, I stay plenty whirled up….I just do it with other things. But that is not what this is about….this is about making the 4 hours you have in the evening count. This is how we do it….

Hubby gets home, as a teacher he is often home about 30 minutes before me. He unloads dishwasher, grabs mail, etc. I get home, usually get a fabulous smoochy from this hubby of mine then it is GO-Time! I pull out the chicken breasts, put them in a sprayed, glass dish with foil over the top and put a little sweet chile sauce on it (that is the flavor choice for this month) Then I pop it in the oven at 300 degrees. I go upstairs, remove war-paint, put on yoga clothes and join husband in basement for yoga session. Currently we are doing a 45 minute “Yoga for Basketball Players” I am not kidding here. Lucky me.

THEN….I go back upstairs to the kitchen, decide…whole grain pasta or rice and quinoa? Make the decision, boil it up, chop the veggies, then pull chicken out, put together, and voila! Dinner….then we sit down in front of the TV and ignore each other for the 10 minutes it takes to gorge ourselves. After that, I shower, he puts the dishes away, and then it is relax time. Reading, movie, TV, or baking. It doesnt matter, but it is quiet time at about 8-9pm.

It’s not the Brady bunch, I know. It is not glamorous, I know this as well, but give us a break, we are children of the 80’s! On demand TV is a must, exercise is non-negotiable, and eating healthy is a requirement. Welcome to my World.

The DAUNTING world of scones!


I love scones. No, seriously, it is unladylike and 100% disgusting how fast I can eat a cinnamon chip scone at Starbucks….. I like how they crumble and have so many different kinds. I really like the ones with the crunchy sugar on them, with fruit in them….yumm….and today is Sweet Sunday and there are apples overflowing the fruit bowl on my counter. I decided to take a regular Cream Scone Recipe, and make it healthy (okay, healthier) The thing is…I HAVE NEVER BAKED A SCONE IN MY LIFE So here goes:

Apple Cream Scones
a “Miss-ipe” (get it?)

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
2.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick of butter cut up, still chilled
1 cup of nonfat half and half
1 cup chopped up apple – any kind, I’m not picky
1 lightly beaten egg
1 tbsp sugar – for the top…love that crunch!

Mix the dry items excluding the last bit of sugar. Add the butter ( it has to be cold! This is the freaking science of scones, take this to heart!) Use a pastry blender until it “peas” up (or looks like crushed crackers…..this is a weird description, don’t freak out, just roll with it, I am guessing this takes experience…) Add the half and half – again this must be cold! Add apples, then turn out onto a floured countertop. roll it over until it becomes a cohesive dough. Plop onto a sprayed baking sheet and shape into a 7 inch round. Cut into 8 pieces ( like a pie) then sprinkle the final sugar on top. Cook at 425 for 14- 16 minutes until firm to the touch ( if you have super powers and don’t mind touching lava) or do what a human being does and pull it out when it is golden brown. Transfer to rack, cool and enjoy! Also – you can skip the sugar sprinkle and do an icing, or both – I don’t care, follow your sweet tooth…it never lies. Enjoy!

Now I will be straight – theses are “wheat-y” and you have to really enjoy whole wheat and that type of healthy food to be into it, I LOVE them. They are not overly sweet, which I like.

My verdict in my first step into the spooky world of scones? NOT AS HARD AS IT SEEMS! Quick to cook, and a fab item to serve if you have overnight guests….plus you can put anything in them! nuts, fruit, jam, cheese, ham…….whatever! I am taking these to work tomorrow…the husband is more of a cinnamon roll guy – I will go into cinnamon rolls on another post..Happy cooking!!

Saturday~Savory


An old friend of mine made a suggestion when I posted on facebook “what should I cook today?”….potato soup and crusty bread! I wanted a challenge, so I went for it, I needed to change the type of soup so it would appeal for dinner, so I decided while at the market….spying those beautiful ears of corn…to make a potato-corn chowder! Then there is the bread, this was the real task…I decided to make French bread, from scratch….yes friends, that means yeast, and rising, and pounding down, and time considerations. Fortunately football is on so my other half is in another world except when he sneaks up for a cookie….

I wanted to time things just right. I selected a soup recipe from a site I LOVE: epicurious.com the recipe is as follows:
Potato Corn Chowder Gourmet | July 2008

Adapted from River Ranch Lodge; Lake Tahoe, CA

This satisfying chowder is sweetened with summer corn and made extra-creamy by adding the milky starch from the cobs.
Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings
Active Time: 45 min
Total Time: 1 1/2 hr
ingredients
3 ears corn, shucked
2 quarts water
1 pound red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (2 1/4 cups)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, halved lengthwise, then sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 thyme sprigs
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
3 cups heavy cream
3 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Garnish:
chopped cilantro
preparation

Cut corn from each cob, then hold cob upright in a bowl and scrape with knife to extract “milk.”

Bring cobs, water, potatoes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a large pot, covered, then boil, covered, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Discard cobs.

Meanwhile, cook onion, carrot, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is pale golden, about 10 minutes.

Add bell pepper, corn and its “milk,” thyme, and bay leaves. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.

Stir in potatoes with water and cream and gently boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 7 cups, about 30 minutes. Stir in scallions, white pepper, cayenne, and salt to taste. Discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
Missy Notes – SUB broth for the water! Veggie or chicken is fine! add extra potatoes as well…I did about 3 cups!

The French bread is just the ole’ standard, but if you need one, post me and I will put it up here.

This post is really about timing, and reading your recipes multiple times and planning your cooking in advance, it is like a ballet, or a symphony – you can;t do things out of order or it just doesn’t work. Understand, you have to really love cooking to get into this. Take Thanksgiving. I standardly have 16-22 people at my home. I go over every item in my recipe, what order I will go in ( peel potatoes, put in pot with water, set aside, pull yams out of oven…etc) so that you can “time a meal” which is truly a lost art. With stove-top stuffing, and ready made side dishes…the fine art of Thanksgiving is almost lost (insert little tear) But I digress….what I am trying to say is PLAN ahead. Really read those recipes and put your plan of attack together. If you need help – send me your menu for a big night and I will draft out the order I would do things to get them on the table…Or at least how I would do it.

So, it kind of looked like this: Make dough – set to proof – go workout, punch down, make into 2 loafs for final rise, take shower, start the prep for soup – get every thing a sizzlin on the stove, place first loaf in oven, combine all ingredients in giant pot for soup, and relax – soup must reduce, and I can focus on the bread and setting the table……Fabulous! Just like you, Shelene! This post is in honor of you!

AHHHH….COOKIES!

What says cozy autumn day more than fresh baked cookies? Nothing is more inviting than coming home to a plate of fresh baked cookies!! What about if those cookies had an added twist? Here is my latest conundrum: I love peanut butter cookies, my husband…meh, he will eat them because he would eat anything, but he prefers a cookie with more “oomph” so, I decided to go to the recipe gods (my zillions of cookbooks), and make a cookie that will please us both. The outcome? Peanut Butter, Rolled Oats, and Butterscotch Cookies! These went over AMAZINGLY, and I only tweaked the recipe a bit. One thing I always do is increase the peanut butter and reduce the oil….substantially This removes a lot of bad fat and increases the good fat. Remember you an always add a few drops of water here and there to make the dough stick together. Then I added 1/4 cup butterscotch chips and 1/2 cup rolled oats. The old standard is now heartier, and has that extra zing that my darling other half requires! Bon Appetit!