Archive for August, 2011

August 31, 2011

I LOVE Teaching!

I am so glad to be back in the classroom and see all of the excitement that my students have as we start this new school year. I’m completely re-energized as we start and see so much new potential with the year and the direction things are going in my building!

Starting this year we are one of less than 600 or something schools who are doing the “Leader in Me” program based on Steven Covey’ “7 Principles of Highly Effective People” but this is based on taking that approach (which I highly recommend to anyone to try, so amazing) with students. They seem to be really enjoying it & I’m loving it too!!

My students also inspire me to be the best that I am and always keep me on my toes. They make me proud and happy and all of that warm-fuzzy stuff!! I was telling them about me (did you know – teacher are real people too and we don’t sleep in our classroom!!?) and they were “ooh-ing” and “ahh-ing” over a few pictures that I showed them from my Teacher by Day – Chef by Night blog. It made me feel really proud of what I have done here. I also loved talking about my wonderful dogs, my love for my family (& adopted family/siblings), enjoyment of cooking/photography, theatre, skiing and all of that fun stuff. People always say to find what you love and then hopefully find someone to pay you to do it. That is what I feel with in my job – I love teaching and hope to always keep this energy

August 29, 2011

Oven Roasted Garlic Tomatoes

I’m not sure how your house currently looks – but mine looks like it is covered in tomatoes. No – and not just because my kitchen is painted red but because I have almost no counter space due to tomatoes (literally, 40+ pounds of tomatoes – we are in the process of ‘dealing’ with them)! I am freezing ‘fresh’ tomatoes to use later. I also am making salsa (and freezing some). I will also have some tomato sauce that will be making its way to the freezer.

But I enjoy eating fresh tomatoes!! For lunch the other day I had just a container of tomatoes that I cut & salted as I ate them – yum. Tomato Salads & Bruschetta have been on the [snack] menu multiple times the past few days as well. Stuffed Tomatoes of various sorts are another popular appetizer around here. We wanted a yummy fresh tomato dish the other day though. After making Zucchini Baba Ganoush, Tomatillo Salsa (a few times) & Tomato Soup – I decided that the house needed to smell yummy from some roasted veggies again.

This is SO simple and easy – roast up some fresh tomatoes with garlic, olive oil, & salt and you have your sauce. The only “work” to this is planning an hour ahead to roast up your tomatoes. So what are you waiting for – enjoy the flavors of summer and enjoy!!

Roasted Tomato Sauce

(amounts approximate)

  • 2 pounds cherry/plum/small tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 + garlic cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
  • coarse sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 container pasta (linguine)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish, combine tomatoes, garlic, oil, and crushed red pepper flakes (if using). Season with salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes until tender, juicy, and skins have popped, about 40 to 50 minutes.

Cook linguine according to package directions in salted water until cooked to desired texture. Serve into bowl then top with some more olive oil, the tomato mixture & some fresh basil, and a few shavings of fresh parmesan. Serve immediately. Yield: 2 – 4 servings (depending on appetites, I’m sure you know how far a box of pasta goes in your family).

*Note – I have also made this with making a quick tomato sauce (onion, garlic, peeled/diced fresh tomatoes, red wine) and mixing my pasta with that & serving the roasted tomatoes on top – that gave us two dimensions of tomato flavor!

One Year Ago: Apple Cinnamon Muffins

And I leave you with this, today’s Question of the Day… What is your favorite way to use garden ripened tomatoes?

August 27, 2011

Hurricane Jiggler Shots

I interrupt your regularly scheduled “tomato overload” program to bring you the latest Hurricane Irene survival information… There’s a Hurricane hitting the East Coast! I know that people are stocked up on their water, bread and milk and eggs and generators and flashlights – and that they also stocked up on the booze so they could make it through the storm! Take some of that booze and make a Hurricane right in your own house.


I present you with Hurricane Irene Jiggler Shots… may these be the only things to wiggle/jiggle/sway in your life during this storm!

Hurricane Jiggler Shots

as adapted from my favorite: Jelly Shot Test Kitchen – get it!

  • 1/2 cup passion fruit nectar (or mango/guava/etc)
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup grenadine
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 2 1/2 packages (2 packages plus 1 teaspoon) Knox Gelatin
  • 1/2 cup white rum
  • 1/2 cup dark rum

Put  all the non-alcoholic liquids into a small saucepan & sprinkle your Knox on top – allowing it to soak for a minute or two. Then turn your heat on very low and stir constantly for about 5 minutes until gelatin is fully disolved.

Remove from heat & pour in your two kinds of rum. Pour the entire mixture into either a loaf pan or a 9×9 square pan (as long as its flat – you are pretty much ok with anything). Allow to set for at least 3 hours (or even overnight) and cut as soon as possible to serving as possible (I often just cut a few at a time when serving, and even if I cut them all – leave them in the ‘fridge to stay cool). This should make about 18-24 Hurricane Irene Survival Jiggler Shots!

One Year Ago – Salsa

And I leave you with this, today’s Question of the Day… What has the worst storm been that you have ever lived through & what ‘survival items’ did you need?

August 24, 2011

“Classic” Chocolate Whoopie Pie

Rich LOVES Whoopie Pies. His mom picks them up for him every time we have a trip to the lake & she gets them from a small Amish Bakery stand. The stakes were high so I have avoided making him Whoopie Pies for quite a while now…

Thanks to Sweet Pea for coming through though, on a recipe I knew would work….

Rich’s analysis is as follows the cake “kicks the Amish Cake’s butt” but the filling was “awesome, but a little lighter in texture”. I think that next time I might try to make a variation of my S’mores Cupcake Frosting with the addition of some meringue powder to fluff it more?

There are so many different variations of Whoopie Pies, and they are quickly becoming more and more popular! They are super easy to make & travel well (especially since I wrap them each individually and they can even be frozen to last longer). These travel much more easily than cupcakes (but not as easily as bar cookies). They may not be quite as fancy as this awesome cake or this cake or even this cake – but I think most everyone (besides dad) will love them just as much. I’m willing to continue experimenting, any ideas?

Chocolate Whoopie Pie

makes 24 2″ pies – or about 15 3″ ones (like I did)

  • 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk

Preheat to 375°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, shortening and brown sugar on low speed until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes.

Add the egg and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes. Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk to the batter and beat on low until incorporated. Add the remaining flour mixture and milk and beat until combined. Drop by tablespoons of batter onto the prepared baking sheets at least 2 inches apart

Bake one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes each, or until the rounds spring back when pressed gently. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.
  • 1 1/2 cups Marshmallow Fluff
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

To make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the marshmallow fluff and the vegetable shortening, on medium speed until the mixture is smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla and beat on low until incorporated. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes more.

Using a knife or spoon, spread the filling onto the flat side of a cooled cake. Top with another cake, flat side down. Repeat with the remaining cakes and serve.

And I leave you with Today’s Questions… what is your favorite dessert to bring with you to feed your loved ones?

August 22, 2011

Roasted Tomato Soup


And just in case you don’t believe me – take a look at my counter!!

I love tomatoes and at this point I am still enjoying them and all of their bounty (from our garden & the CSA) – so I am not quite ready to get to making sauce yet, although when you check in with me in about a week I’m sure I’ll be on the sauce-making path). After roasting up veggies for my Tomatillo Salsa & Zucchini Baba Ganoush, I was really in the mood for some roasted tomatoes. What better way to really enjoy the flavors of tomato and roasted tomatoes than in soup (ok – I am sure there are plenty of ways to enjoy these flavors – but a girl can only eat so many sliced tomatoes with salt/pepper on them a day).

Take some of those fresh tomatoes, roast ’em up with some garlic, smash in the pot, add some milk & enjoy (or puree for a smoother soup – that would have been my preference but Rich requested a chunky tomato soup). This is perfect with a nice piece of grilled cheese (we used Mozzarella on some Rosemary bread “grilled” in the George Foremen). Enjoy & play with these basic flavors to get the exact recipe and flavors you are looking for!!

Roasted Tomato Soup

  • 8 medium tomatoes (or about 4 lbs total of whatever tomatoes you have)
  • 4 – 6 (or more) cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • approx. 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Rosemary, Thyme, & Oregano (approx. 1 sprig each or some dried)
  • 6 + Tablespoons milk
  • Coarse Sea Salt & Coarsely ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 375 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Lay the tomatoes on the pan cut side up with the garlic cloves (skins on) and quartered onion. Sprinkle with olive oil and season with salt. Roast until the tomatoes are soft and caramelized, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Peel the tomatoes and add the pulp and juices to a soup pan. Squeeze the garlic from its skin and add it to the pan. Place the pan over medium heat, and begin mashing the tomatoes with a potato masher until it’s pulpy, but not chunky OR if you want it smooth – you should place your peels tomato & garlic right into a food processor or blender to make it smooth & then place in the soup pot.

When the mixture is hot but not boiling, stir in the cream. Season to taste with salt. Season with some oregano, rosemary & thyme. Add a pinch of sugar, if needed & grind some fresh pepper on the top of each bowl when you serve it.

tray of tomatoes ready to roast.

cheese stuffed tomatoOne year ago – [Fresh] Stuffed Tomatoes (these were totally awesome:  garden fresh tomatoes stuffed with mozzarella & goat cheese – go check ’em out & get to using more of those tomatoes!)


.And I leave you with today’s question of the day… how do you like your tomatoes (fresh, roasted, sauced, salsa, none, everything, etc)?

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