Saturday, July 24, 2010

She's back....

The Skinny Chef in Disguise has returned!! After a long hiatus, I am back! In the last few weeks I have rediscovered my love for cooking, baking, and all things...FOOD! This year I have been on a journey in weight loss and becoming more aware of my relationship with food. No phenomenal revelation other than this: food is not a bad thing, moderation is a good thing, obsession about food (in any capacity) is a horrible thing! So I've decided, that I love to cook and that's ok! It doesn't mean I have to be overweight, and it doesn't mean I have to obsess over calories. So this post will be about some of the things I've cooked over the past few weeks. Maybe I'll be back more regularly!

First up! Pork chops!! What I'm really enjoying about cooking lately is making things my own. Don't get me wrong, you can't replace a good recipe, but sometimes it's ok to think outside the box and just try things! So, I served my pork chops over a dried cherry, apple stuffing and topped it with sauteed cinnamon apples! I find myself remembering things I've heard on Food Network, and in this case I had the idea to carry the apple theme through the whole meal. So, I cooked the stuffing in apple juice instead of water to connect it with the apples on top. My husband LOVES applesause with pork chops so I made my own apples with a few dried cherries to revisit the idea of the cherries in the stuffin.! After eating the dish, he said he would have rather had the apples on the side, but I like the way it all looks piled up on the plate!

Next up was a super yummy pasta salad. For Christmas my mom got me a Dean Brothers cookbook. It's nice because all the recipes are EASY! I occassionally enjoy a challenging recipe, but tend to lean toward the easy ones! So, I made this pasta salad from that cookbook for Alan and I to take to work for lunch! Cheese tortellini, brocolli, cherry tomatoes, cheese....yum!

The same day I made the pasta salad I made a super simple, super delish chicken alfredo pasta bake for dinner!

I am loving all the fresh berries this summer! I serve them at least once a week with a meal! Ava (my 3 year old) LOVES strawberries, but doesn't care for blueberries. Molly Kate (21 months old) will only eat blueberries, so they spend half the meal trading berries with each other!
Unfortunately, I have no documentation of the fish tacos I made a few weeks ago! I'm really horrible at taking pictures, so unless my phone is sitting on the counter, I don't really remember to take photos of my kids, much less my food! Oh well, they were still yummy! If you don't believe me, ask my mom! She tried them and said they were good!
Last night, was the ultimate! I've been on a quest to try new things that I've never made before (ie. fish tacos) and I have had the itch to do barbecue lately! Not just any old barbecue though, I wanted to tackle baby back ribs. I had absolutely no idea where to start so I did some research online. Of course I found about 74 different ways to do ribs in about 2 minutes. So I formulated a plan in my mind and headed off to the store! I decided to try two different sauces for the ribs: a bourbon bbq sauce and a Kansas City sticky red sauce. I decided to do some chicken too, more as a back up in case the ribs were a bust! But, here's the result!

Topped off the meal with homemade peach cobbler made with the peaches from my backyard!

Amazingly, I have maintained a weight loss of 20 pounds since January! Even with all this yummy food!

Monday, January 11, 2010

To My Faithful Followers

To all of my faithful followers here at Skinny Chef in Disguise,
I am setting this blog on the back burner, so to speak. I have started back to work at Church on the Rock full time with my husband as worship pastors. I am so excited about this new adventure that we are on, but I know that I need to dedicate any extra time I may have to working on some other projects and spending time with my family. I may post from time to time if I run across a recipe or something just too irresistible! This blog was a really great way to share another creative side of myself during a time of real change in my life. Thank you for sharing this small part of my journey with me! Happy cooking!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lingerie Shower Cupcakes

Just a quick post with pictures of some cupcakes I made for a lingerie shower. I thought they turned out pretty cute!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas cheer!

Hey all you skinny chefs out there!! I have been cooking like crazy (actually baking) lately, but I have done a terrible job of taking pictures and sharing it all with you. I'm so sorry!! Sunday night we were the dessert house in a progressive dinner for our Life group at church. I made a chocoholic/chocolate lover's cake with chocolate covered strawberries and banana pudding. (Two separate things, cake and pudding). Yum-O!!! (Sorry, Rachael Ray, I'm stealing your phrase!) Today I made an Apricot Almond bread from a Pampered Chef cookbook that I've had forever, although it was my first time to make this particular recipe. I love the white chocolate apricot bread from Market Street's bakery, and this tastes VERY similar! Looks pretty too!

Next on my list of goodies, because it has become a holiday favorite (oh who am I kidding, it's a year round favorite!) are cake balls!!! I actually had a Skinny Chef blog request for the recipe so I'm going to share the original link where I found the cake balls. If you have never checked out Bakerella, you are missing out!!! Great stuff on her website!! Who doesn't love things on a stick?? So, check out Bakerella and you won't be disappointed in the red velvet cake balls!! I'll make some soon and share some pics...until then, happy baking!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cooking up a storm!!!

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone and honestly it was not all I hoped it would be...culinary speaking. But in the midst of my unmet expectations for my time in the kitchen, God taught me a great lesson about enjoying time spent with my family...especially on the holidays!! It's not about me getting to cook all that I want to. And honestly, I've done plenty of cooking lately! This post will include LOTS of pictures and a recipe or two. First off:
Banana Bread!!!
This recipe is super easy and doesn't require anything more than just dumping and mixing. And the end result is sooooo good! I think I got this recipe from my mom at some point. I've had it for so long and the recipe card is proof that I've made it about 1,000 times. I'm not sure where she got it from, but trust me it's fantastic!
6 large bananas (the really ripe, almost black ones work best!)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup buttermilk (did you know you can add 1 Tbsp. vinegar to 1 cup of milk and substitute for buttermilk? you can!!)
4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup oil
5 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup pecans
Bake at 325 degrees for 1-1 1/2 hours (make sure a toothpick comes out clean from the middle)
Makes 2 large loafs. (Or you can make smaller loafs and some mini ones too, just because they're cute!)
I'm sure there is a proper way to add things in a certain order, but I've always just dumped it in and mixed as I go and it always turns out great! Enjoy!!
Next up we have Italian Cream Cake!! Today was my Mom's birthday and I wanted to cook dinner for her and all of our family. I planned an Italian theme menu: lasagna, salad, bread, and of course the Italian cream cake for dessert. The lasagna turned out good. It was my first time to ever make it. I get these ideas and as it's all baking away in the oven I start to doubt my decision to make something brand new when people are coming over for dinner! Luckily, it all turned out great. I got the Hearty Autumn salad recipe from a blog I follow by Lisa Young. You can check it out here. Here's what mine looked like.

I didn't really have a recipe for the lasagna. I researched a bunch of different recipes around the internet and finally decided to come up with my own. It was yummy and I'm looking forward to having the leftovers tomorrow for lunch!

Ok, on to the cake!! This was just the second time I've made this cake, but it is so delicious and it's easy to make!! I should make it more often...or maybe that would keep the skinny chef inside of me disguised for a very LONG time! So here's the recipe (from Southern Living Christmas Cookbook) and some pictures of the process!
1/2 cup butter (softened)
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teasoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk (here's that vinegar trick again!)
1 cup flaked coconut
Nutty Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 cup chopped pecans (toasted)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup butter (softened)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 (16-ounce) package powdered sugar, sifted
Beat butter and shortening in a large mixing bowl at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add vanilla, beat until blended.
Combine flour and baking soda. Add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in coconut.
Beat egg white until stiff peaks form, and fold into batter. Pour into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Bake at 350 for 23 to 25 minutes. Cool layers in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool layers completely on wire racks. Spread frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Yield: 1 3-layer cake.
I know this one has a lot of details and seems like a lot of work, but it's not too bad, and I promise it's worth it! Super moist, super yummy! Happy eating, friends!
Ingredients.... Don't forget to flour the pans! I hope this turns out good!
Putting it all together.... ....and voila!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pumpkin Waffles

I wanted to share a yummy looking recipe I came across! Who doesn't love pumpkin this time of year?? I have been collecting some new pumpkin recipes and I plan on having a huge pumpking baking day soon. Here is a recipe from my cousin, Stacie's blog for pumpkin waffles!! How yummy does that sound? She even took cute pictures to go with it, so thanks Stacie for making something yummy! Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Funny Thanksgiving Food Memory

As Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and I am planning menus and making shopping lists, I remembered a very funny Thanksgiving cooking story that I just had to share! The first Thanksgiving we were married, we planned on going to my sister-in-law's house for the big, traditional meal. This was my first holiday with Alan's family and I so desperately wanted to fit in! I offered to bring something and my mother-in-law just told me not to worry about it. She wanted me to just enjoy the day and go watch football with the guys. What this really meant was, "we don't think you can hang in the kitchen, so just show up and we'll take care of the rest." I really wanted to help out and kept insisting that they let me bring something. I would have been happy to just bring a bag of ice, but I was not going to show up empty handed! I finally talked them into letting me bring the rolls.

I was so excited because I had an amazing recipe for rolls that my friend (and blog follower!) Jennifer Watson gave me. Her rolls are DIVINE!!! I love them, and I knew this was my shot to impress the in-laws and carve out my place in the kitchen for all future holidays! Now this was very early in my cooking career and I had never made any kind of homemade bread before. But, I had a recipe so how hard could it be??? Two days before Thanksgiving I did a practice run. I was fairly confident in the process and since I had no idea what I was doing I had nothing to compare it to. I thought I was 25 minutes from pulling out some fantastic rolls from the oven! The timer went off and you can imagine my disappointment when I pulled out a tray of rock hard dough balls. I instantly panicked! This would not suffice for the BIG day! I called my mom and asked her if she had any advice for me and my endeavor. She gave me all kinds of tips. "Set the egg out for a while and let it get to room temperature." "Don't get the water too hot or you'll kill the yeast." She had some good pointers I thought. At least she had made a few batches of rolls in her life, so I kept practicing. Seven failed bathces later I was totally freaked out! I was so far into my quest for the perfect Jennifer Watson dinner roll, that I couldn't see a way out. The timer was ticking and the big dinner was soon upon us, so I made one final batch and convinced myself that they were ok. Why couldn't I hear the nagging voice in my head, "go buy 4 dozen rolls at Texas Roadhouse and put an end to this madness, you idiot!!!" I prayed, I begged, I pleaded with God to work a miracle on that bread while it baked in the oven. As I pulled them out of the oven, the really weren't terrible, so I wrapped them up and we headed to the sister-in-law's house.

I nervously brought my little basket of rolls and placed them in the line up right between the green bean casserole and the pies. "It's just a basket of rolls. There are 15 side dishes here and 8 pies. Who's gonna even notice whether they're great or not??" All these thoughts raced through my head and I just did all I could to smile and fit in to my new family. Everyone went through the line, we were all sitting, the meal was half way over and I was feeling a bit of relief about the whole ordeal. Why was I so freaked out over something so stupid? All of a sudden, two seats down from me, on the other side of my husband, there was a banging sound on the table. Alan's dad proceeded to hit his roll on the table and ask "What is this supposed to be? A biscuit?" followed by a little more banging. No one answered him. They all just pretended to not hear even though no one else was talking at the time. They all just felt so sorry for me. I wanted to stand up and scream "It's me!! I brought those hard biscuit things!" Welcome to the family!! I wanted to crawl under the table and just die right there. It was a horrifying moment. Thankfully he dropped his line of questioning and dove into the sweet potatoes.

So the past 3 years of family holidays I have sort of been confined to dish duty and filling glasses with ice and beverages. Last year I actually managed to convince my mother-in-law to let me chop some veggies. I chopped celery and onions for about 2 hours. I realize it will probably take me at least 12 more years before they ever trust me to bring an actual part of the meal. It's a miracle this incident did not scar me for life. I can't believe I ever stepped back into the kitchen at all!! I can tell you that my friend Jennifer let me come over one time and watch her make her famous rolls and I can now make them. They are still never as good as hers, but they are pretty good. There is a method to it and I was so far off it was no wonder I kept coming up with brick biscuits. And no, I will not be sharing the recipe. Partly because I have been sworn to secrecy and partly because I could not ever let anyone else endure the humiliation that might possibly come with attempting to make these rolls!!

What are your holiday food memories?