Archive for April, 2009

Fontina Scalloped Potatoes

I was heading to a pot luck dinner and was tasked with a side dish.

Everyone likes potatoes and cheese! I like this particular recipe because most of the cooking is done on the stove and it’s just finished off in the oven.

First, dice up an onion…

Melt the butter and cook the onion in it. Then throw in the thyme (I used dried), garlic (from a jar…shame on me), and S&P.

Peel & slice the potatoes. It says “thick”, but I like mine about 1/4″ thick.

In the same pot with the sauteed onion mixture, pour in the cream & broth. Then slide the potatoes into the hot tub.

Cover & simmer until potatoes are tender. Then dump all of it into a baking dish. The recipe calls for an 8-inch square dish, but I used a 9 X 13 dish. I like more surface area on the top for maximum browning and crisping…

I was kinda rough with the potatoes as I was dumping it into the dish, so you can see that a lot of the pieces are broken and it looks really ugly, but that’s nothing that the cheese can’t cover up!

Shred up some fontina cheese. If you can find it already shredded, more power to ya, but I couldn’t find any.

Sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake at 425 degrees until golden and bubbly.

Fontina Scalloped Potatoes

Adapted from The Food Channel


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced, pressed, or from a jar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped or 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 1/2 pounds (about 5 medium) russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4″ thick
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup)…or more…


Preheat oven to 425°F.

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the foaming subsides, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, about 4 minutes.

Add garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook for about 30 seconds.

Add potatoes, broth and cream and heat to simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the potatoes are almost tender (a paring knife can be slipped into and out of a potato slice with some resistence), about 10 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a 9 X 13 baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake until the cream is bubbling around the edges and the top is golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Cool slightly before serving.

Diaper Cake, Sports Themed

A co-worker of mine headed to a baby shower this past weekend, so I finally got a chance to make a diaper cake for a baby boy! Seems like everyone has been having girls lately!

She described the baby’s room as being decorated in “Oilers colors”…not Houston Texans colors. haha

Not sew crafty, but I’m getting there.

I am a jack of all trades and a master of none.

Too many things pique my interest, so I can never focus on any one thing….Gocco printing, amigurumi, cooking, baking, photography, diaper cakes, origami, rubber stamping, embossing, scrapbooking, underwater basket weaving… You name it, I wanna try it…

I have been less than stellar at sewing and I have always wanted to learn the real way to sew instead of just doing a sloppy job out of necessity…

As a birthday gift, a friend signed us up for a beginners sewing class at SewCrafty where we’d be making an apron. No, not an adorable Jessie Steele type of hostess apron, but a utilitarian canvas type of apron…we’re talking basics here y’all!!

Brown and blue to match the decor in the apartment!

Hot-glued the buttons on. We were short on time…

Look Ma! I sewed in a STRAIGHT line! Yay!

And I even used a decorative stitch on the machine!

I can’t wait to start more sewing projects!! I need my very own sewing machine first…

Asian Coleslaw

I was heading to a potluck and decided I was way to busy to make anything complicated. I love this coleslaw because it’s fresh, crunchy, delicious and you can make it the day before (in fact, you must make it the day before).

First, crumble the ramen noodles in the bottom of the bowl. I used a vegetarian flavor. It’s best to crush it while it’s still in it’s package. Don’t pulverize it! Put the seasoning packets to the side.

Next, the broccoli slaw:

Then, the angel hair coleslaw OR you can spend 23 cents on a small head of cabbage and shred it yourself on a mandoline:

Green onions

Slivered almonds

Sunflower kernels

Get a plastic food storage container or a jar and place the oil, vinegar, sugar and both seasoning packets in there. You can change it up with some rice vinegar or sesame oil…

Shake it vigorously until the mixture is combined thoroughly.

Pour the dressing all over the coleslaw. Cover and chill overnight.

Mix just before serving!

Asian Coleslaw

2 pkgs. Ramen Noodles (any flavor)
1 bag Angel Hair Coleslaw Mix
1 Bag Broccoli Slaw Mix
1 bunch green onions
1 cup sunflower kernels
1 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup vinegar

Crumble uncooked ramen noodles in the bottom of the bowl. Put both bags of slaw on top. Then the green onions and nuts. Mix the 2 seasoning packets from ramen noodles with oil, vinegar & sugar. Shake in a jar or whisk together in a bowl. Pour the dressing on top. Resist the urge to mix. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Stir just prior to serving.

I recommend making this in a large, low and wide bowl instead of a deep bowl so that the dressing has a chance to make contact with all of the ingredients instead of sitting at the bottom.

Homemade Neopolitan [Coconut] Sundaes

Do you remember those Brach’s Pick-A-Mix bulk candy bins that they had at all the grocery stores? They still have them at some grocery stores, but you definitely don’t see them as often. You could eat a piece of candy and they had a little slot for nickles.

I absolutely love Brach’s Neopolitan Sundae…a chewy square of coconutty goodness!

When I saw this recipe for Neopolitan Coconut Strips on Martha Stewart, it looked so easy, I had to give it a try…

Combine the white chocolate (I used chips instead of chopped), condensed milk, butter, salt and vanilla (I used extract instead of vanilla beans) in a sauce pan and cook, while stirring, until smooth. Make sure the heat isn’t too high because you could burn the mixture…you don’t want to get little brown burnt flecks in your nice white mixture!

While that’s cooking, line a 8X8 square pan with plastic wrap. Once the mixture is smooth, take it off the heat and mix in the two types of coconut.

Divide the mixture by three. Add the chocolate to one batch and food coloring to the other, leaving the third batch plain.

The chocolate batch goes on the bottom. Smooth it out with a rubber spatula:

Then dollop the plain batch on top of that and smooth it out evenly:

Lastly, the pink coconut:

They look kinda gross up-close, huh? It yummy though, trust me.

The mixture is really sticky, so it makes it difficult to spread. If I could do it again, I would cut out 8X8 squares of wax paper to lay on top of the mixture and spread it out with my hands. You’d get more uniform layers.

Here’s what it looks like when you’re done. Chill it for at least two hours.

After it’s nice and chilly, you can grab hold of the plastic wrap and lift the whole thing out. Peel off the plastic and plop it onto the cutting board. Trim off the uneven edges. I like to use the giant cleaver I bought at Hong Kong Food Market. It is awesome. I bet you could use it as a machete…

Cut it however you like. The recipe tells you to cut it into strips, but you can cut it into cubes…

See how the layers are uneven? And do you notice the little air pockets? Try the wax paper thing and I think it would look nicer…

I know you’re thinking, “Hey, what’s up with all this coconut stuff? Butterscotch bark, toasted coconut flan, Neopolitan coconut candy…” Well, I just like it! I will leave you with this:

“I love coconut, because when you think you’re done eating coconut, 25 minutes later, a little piece of coconut comes out of the back of your mouth, and then you say, “Hey! It’s more coconut!” I think any food with that kind of determination needs a little respect.” – John Mayer

Toasted Coconut Flan

My mom LOVES flan. I wasn’t even going to make a dessert for Easter dinner, but at the last minute, while flipping through my numerous recipe print-outs, I came across this recipe.

First, toast the coconut in the oven. Try not to be a gung-ho multi-tasker and end up burning the coconut. If you can smell it, it’s probably too late and you’ve burned it.

While the coconut is toasting, boil then simmer the milk, coconut milk and coconut cream. When the coconut is nice and toasty, throw it into the milk mixture to steep.

If you’re good, you could also have been making the caramel during this time. Put the sugar, lemon juice and water into a pan and boil until it’s a nice amber color, like this:

I stirred the caramel even though the recipe said not to because I am a rebel.

Pour this caramel into six ramekins. I just used one large round pan (again, the rebel tendencies prevail). The baking time will differ, but I’ll mention it later.

WARNING: once you pour this caramel into the pan (especially a metal pan), the pan will be extremely hot. Sugar can heat to a much higher temp than water!!

Whisk the eggs and yolks together in a big bowl.

Strain the milk mixture and whisk it in as well. I did it in thirds because I was afraid of accidentally making coconut scrambled eggs…

It made me kind of sad to strain out all that yummy toasted coconut and just throw it away. I wonder how it would be if I left it in the flan? I’ll experiment with that someday…

But I digress…Pour that mixture into the pan (or ramekins) on top of the caramel. Put that pan into a roasting pan. Pour in hot water till it comes up one third of the way up the pan (hot tap water is fine, no need to boil water).

Cover the entire thing with foil and bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes, if you used ramekins, one hour if you made one big flan!

Let it cool completely. I like to take it out of the water bath and place on a kitchen towel to keep it from carry-over cooking.

The edges will pull away from the pan and you can just invert it onto a plate. Watch out for all that delicious caramel liquid…make sure the plate you are using to invert the flan has a lip, or at least enough volume capacity to contain it…no one likes caramel sauce all over the counter. If you have the time (and patience), chill it in the refrigerator. It’s yummy when chilled!

Toasted Coconut Flan from Michael Chiarello


2 cups milk

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup coconut cream

1 cup toasted coconut, recipe follows, or store bought toasted coconut

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoon lemon juice

6 eggs

3 egg yolks


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine milk, coconut milk, and coconut cream in a saucepan. Stir, bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 15 minutes until slightly reduced. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes. Add toasted coconut and infuse for 15 minutes.

To make the caramel: combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a medium saucepot and cook over high heat, without stirring, until it darkens to amber. Pour the caramel evenly into 6 (4-ounce) ramekins and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and the yolks. Strain the milk mixture into the eggs and whisk to combine. Fill each ramekin with this mixture, then place ramekin in roasting pan. Create a water bath by filling the roasting pan 1/3 way with hot water, and cook, covered with foil, for 25 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.

To unmold the flan: take a paring knife and run it around the sides of the ramekin to loosen the flan. To help it along, you may also place the ramekin in a shallow bowl with warm water until it comes halfway up the sides for a few seconds. Invert a serving plate on top of the ramekin and flip over to unmold

Corn & Green Chili Casserole

This has got to be one of my all-time favorite side dishes. It is crispy on top, creamy inside, cheesy, and has a southwestern flair from the green chilies..Yumm…

The recipe:

2 eggs

1 can of creamed corn & 1 can of drained corn kernels

4 oz can of diced green chilies & 8 oz sour cream

1/2 onion, diced & 1 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix

1-1/2 C shredded cheddar & 1/2 stick of melted butter

Put it in a 9X13 baking dish or two smaller ones (sprayed with Pam)

Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. I par-baked this one for only 30 minutes so that I could transport it to my parents and finish it off in their oven before serving.


Corn & Green Chili Casserole

2 eggs
1 can of creamed corn
1 can of drained corn kernels
4 oz can of diced green chilies
8 oz sour cream
1/2 onion, diced
1 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix
1-1/2 C shredded cheddar
1/2 stick of melted butter

Mix all ingredients and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

You do not have to mix the ingredients in steps. Just throw it all together. You can omit the onions if you’re weird about onions, but honestly, you do not taste them. They just add to the over all moist & creamy texture. You can also use other types of shredded cheese…maybe colby, pepperjack, etc…Might also be a good idea to top the casserole with 1/2 C. of cheese…You can’t ever have too much cheese.

Easter Dinner

This year, we wanted to keep Easter dinner really simple since it was just going to be the four of us!

The Menu:

Roasted asparagus
Corn casserole
Toasted coconut flan

No, we didn’t make the turducken. My sister bought it at the grocery store! I’ll start off with posting a pic of this bizarre poultry conglomeration:

Sorry I never got a picture of it before we delved into it…

Many, many more culinary adventures to come…

Easter Treats for Co-Workers

Easter is just days away and I thought it would be nice to bring in some goodies for the co-workers.

I rummaged through my pantry last night and found that I had all the ingredients for Butterscotch Bark from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food and some homemade chocolate chip cookies.

I won’t bore you with all the steps of making the chocolate chip cookies, but here they are in their unbaked glory.

If you know me at all, I am a stickler for uniform shapes and sizes. A must have if you’re making cookies, truffles, etc are these stainless steel spring-loaded scoops.

Some people looking at this picture are salivating right now over this little ball of dough. I am not a fan of eating raw cookie dough…bleh…

Now, this is what I’m talking about…a Silpat-lined, baking sheet full of warm, gooey, chewy chocolate chip cookies….oh yea…

Come to mama…

Next up, the butterscotch bark. It does seem kind of random that I made this, but I had graham crackers, toasted coconut and pecans…

Toss the toasted coconut with the toasted pecans. I used a combo of chopped pecans and pecan pieces.

Once that mixture is cooled, toss in the chocolate chips. I used a combo of semi-sweet and milk chocolate because what I had left over from the cookies wasn’t enough!

Break up the graham crackers and put them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook the butter and brown sugar over medium heat until smooth and then pour it over the graham crackers. Bake until bubbly…it’ll look like this:

It doesn’t look very appetizing at this point, so quickly sprinkle that mixture over the top while it’s warm and gooey. Press down a little with a rubber spatula.

You might be tempted to touch it right now, but DON’T! The chocolate chips are barely keeping their shape and will melt into an ugly blob at the lightest touch!

Once it’s completely cooled, you can break it up:

Packed and ready to go!

Overeating at the Bellagio

Last month, in honor of me and the BFF’s birthdays, we took our annual trip to Las Vegas!!

Now, I can’t really show you any pictures save for those in which I took at the glorious Bellagio Buffet. This was our first time eating at a Las Vegas buffet and we were not disappointed.

I only remembered to take pictures of the desserts. Besides, I’m sure you don’t want to see my dinner plate stacked with prime rib, on top of Alaskan snow crab legs, on top of rack of lamb, on top of manicotti….I could go on…haha.

The desserts were super delicious and each on its own little plate:

Creme brulee, flan, chocolate and hazelnut mousse cake, chocolate raspberry mousse cake, bread pudding (way in the back of the picture, but insanely delicious!)


April 2009