Archive for December, 2011

December 31, 2011

525600 minutes

– from RENT
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand  moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousands six hundred minutes,
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee. In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?
How about love?
How about love?
How about love? Measure in love
Seasons of love. Seasons of love.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes!
Five hundred twenty-five thousand journeys to plan.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?
In truths that she learned, or in times that he cried.
In bridges he burned or the way that she died.
It’s time now to sing out, tho’ the story never ends
Let’s celebrate – Remember a year in the life of friends
Remember the love!
Remember the love!
Seasons of love!

My 525,600 minutes of 2011

  • Teacher by Day – Chef by Night had its first photo published to FoodGawker & has gotten a total of 21 photos published there
  • I have had over 50,000 hits on my blog in its lifetime and averages about 150 views a day
  • Teacher-Chef got a page on Facebook
  • We totaled a car on the PA Turnpike, with a cake that survived the accident with the deer
  • Rich moved in, we’re not engaged, but one day
  • I got tenured at school
  • Our school is a Leader in Me school & I love my staff
  • I burnt popcorn in the school’ microwave, setting of the smoke detectors and causing the whole school to be evacuated
  • I started (and ended) a Game Design Program (some things are not as good as they seem)
  • I attended two wonderful couple’s weddings
  • Went to NYC for my 28th Birthday and rode the Toys R Us Ferris Wheel to celebrate (and went to the Harry Potter exhibit and had great pizza with fun people)
  • My “little sister” turned 16
  • I only worked 2 jobs this year, for the first time in about 8 years!
  • My dad retired (as did both of Rich’s parents)
  • Rich started his MBA program at Lehigh
  • I gained weight (thanks blog)
  • My dad got a new baby (puppy – to hold him over until grandchildren)
  • I took my grandmother to see Wonderland (which was only on Broadway for about a month)
  • Two new babies will be born to 2 of my favorite couples in 2012
  • I went to see Adam Pascall & Anthony Rapp (original leads from RENT) at Steel Stacks


top 5 most Popular Posts on Teacher-Chef in 2011

Peanut Butter Cake, photograph by Alborn Photography

… here’s looking to 2012!

lose 10 pounds, do another show or two, get my dining room finished, have all props ready a month before the High School’s show, work out 2 to 3 times a week, spend some time each day with those I love, find the positive in each of my students and empower them to see it in themselves, increase Facebook Membership, stay headache free, get the trees ruining the driveway cut down (and fix/extend driveway), have 25 photos posted to FoodGawker, average > 200 views a day, post something 2 to 3 times a week, & smile every day!


December 29, 2011

[last minute] New Years Suggestions Wrap-Up

I’m taking some of the best Appetizers and Goodies that I have made over the past year or so and sharing them here with you, just in case you are still looking for some last minute ideas!



Spinach Parmesan Balls

DIY Ranch Dressing

Stuffed Tomatoes

cheese stuffed tomato


Sushi Tray(make a party out of sushi making)

Chocolate Cups filled with Mousse

.… do you have any idea or suggestions as to what makes the Perfect New Years Eve Celebration?


What to do…

Play some Board Games

Look through Photos of the Past Year with friends/family

watch the Rockin New Years Eve

Go Ice Skating

Watch some Fireworks

Cook up some Goodies & make it a Food Night

Catch up on Sleep


Happy New Year – wishing You and Yours the Happiest of Years and I’m looking forward to an exciting year ahead of blogging and your support and feedback!

December 25, 2011

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

Every year (for 30 years – which means before I was even born) we go to our prior neighbors from Jersey the week before Christmas to help decorate their tree. I look forward to this day every year. Aunt Pat always makes bacon wrapped cheese hot dogs in their buns and bacon baked beans. We always bring a (chocolate) dessert.) Over the past few years it has become my job to make the dessert. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with (finding) a delicious new dessert every year.

Merry Christmas 2011

But, I am not sure I will ever be able to top this dessert though. This Chocolate Mousse cake is rich and decadent and sweet and moist and just perfect! Start with a mousse-like flour-less cake, top with a rich chocolate mousse, and finish the whole thing off with a white chocolate/peanut butter mousse. Throw on some extra chocolate shavings and you are in Cake Heaven!!

This cake looks a lot more difficult than it really is. There is a little bit of time to put into it (but not really – especially considering your end result). Plan to make this the night before you want to serve it and when you serve it be prepared for the “oohs” and “ahhs”. But I do warn you that once you make this cake, it will be hard to top it the next time you want a delicious chocolate dessert.

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

adapted from Annie’s Eats – serves at least 10

bottom layer

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • 7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (or bittersweet chocolate chips)
  • ¾ tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

middle layer

  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 5 Tablespoons hot water
  • 7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (or those baking chips)
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt

top layer

  • ¾ tsp. powdered gelatin (like Knox)
  • 1 Tablespoon) water
  • 6 oz. white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1½ cups heavy cream

Chocolate curls or cocoa powder

Bottom Layer –  butter (or crisco) the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, then line the bottom of the pan with a parchment round for easy removal later. Center rack in the oven and preheat to 325˚ F.  Combine the butter, chocolate, and espresso powder in a large heatproof bowl set over simmering water (or microwave for 30 second intervals on 1/2 power until combined).  Stir occasionally until the mixture is smooth.  Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.  Whisk in the vanilla and egg yolks.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt on medium speed until foamy, about 1 minute.  Crumble half of the brown sugar into the mixing bowl to remove any lumps.  Beat until incorporated, about 15 seconds.  Add the remaining brown sugar and continue to beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes more.  Using a whisk, mix one-third of the beaten egg whites to the chocolate mixture to lighten it.  Fold in the remaining egg whites gently with a rubber spatula until no streaks remain.  Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake until the cake has risen, is firm around the edges and the center has just set but is still soft (should spring back after pressing gently with a finger), about 14-18 minutes.  Transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely, at least 1 hour.  Do not remove the cake from the pan.  (If not making the second layer right away, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to proceed.)

Second Layer – whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water in a small bowl; set aside.  Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth (or melt in microwave at 1/2 power in 30 second intervals).  Once melted, remove from the heat and let cool slightly, 2-5 minutes.

In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream, sugar and salt on medium speed until the mixture begins to thicken, about 30 seconds.  Increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted, at least a minute or two.  Whisk in the cocoa powder mixture until smooth.  Using a whisk, mix one-third of the whipped cream to the chocolate mixture to lighten it.  Fold in the remaining whipped cream gently with a rubber spatula until no streaks remain.  Pour the mousse into the springform pan over the cooled cake and tap gently on the counter to remove air bubbles.  Gently smooth the top with a spatula.  Wipe the inside edge of the pan to remove any drips.  Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes while preparing the top layer.

Top Layer – sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small bowl and let stand 5 minutes to soften.  Place the white chocolate in a medium bowl.  Bring ½ cup of the cream to a boil in a small saucepan.  Remove the pan from the heat, add the gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved.  Pour the hot cream mixture over the white chocolate and let stand about 1 minute.  Whisk until the mixture is smooth.  Cool to room temperature, about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the remaining 1 cup of cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken.  Increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted, at least a minute or two.  Using a whisk, mix one-third of the whipped cream to the white chocolate mixture to lighten it.  Fold in the remaining whipped cream gently with a rubber spatula until no streaks remain.  Spoon the white chocolate mousse into the pan over the middle layer.  Smooth the top with an offset spatula.  Return the cake to the refrigerator and chill until set, at least 2½ hours.

When refrigerating, do not place Saran on top until it is set to avoid messing with the top. When you are ready to serve, grate (in large curls) some good quality chocolate on top (I forgot this step since I left the chocolate at home when this traveled with me). To serve – carefully cut around the edge of your springform to loosen the edges. Then release the springform and careful remove it. Because of the parchment – it will be a little hard to cut, but it goes pretty well. Serve with a glass of milk or a nice cup of coffee – ENJOY!

One year Ago – Chocolate Mousse Cups & Candied Orange Peels, perfect Christmas Goodies

And I leave you with this, Today’s Question of the Day… what tradition do you have in your life & does it have a food related to it?

…and all I want for Christmas this year is for you to follow me on Facebook and continue to read my blog & maybe even leave some comments

December 23, 2011

Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole

Looking for a Awesome, Warm, Fresh Breakfast Casserole with ZERO work in the morning? Well… it’s here!

Throw everything in the crock pot before you go to bed, turn the crock pot on low and then breakfast is perfect in the morning. Feel free to adapt this with some veggies or different meats or whatever cheeses you like. Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, & Happy Breakfast!!

Crock Pot Breakfast Egg Casserole

  • 1 pkg. (at least 26 ounces) frozen shredding hash brown potatoes
  • approx. 1 pound Ground Sausage (pre-cooked, or cook up some sausage/pork/whatever)
  • 1 cup shredding mozzarella (or cheddar) cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredding parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup julienne cut sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
  • 6 green onions (or 1 small onion), sliced
  • 12 eggs
  • 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 ground black pepper

Spray a 6 quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Layer 1/2 of the potatoes on the bottom of slow cooker.  Top with half of the sausage, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, sun dried tomatoes and green onion. Repeat layering.

Beat eggs, milk and pepper in large bowl with a wire whisk until well blended.  Pour evenly over potato-sausage mixture. 

Cook on low setting for 6-8 hours or on high setting for 3-4 hours or until eggs are set.

One Year Ago – Eggnog Martinis, enjoy a tasty holiday cocktail today

And I leave you with this, Today’s Question of the Day… what’s your favorite quick/fast/easy breakfast?

December 20, 2011

Pumpkin Bread French Toast

There are so many variations of Pumpkin Bread. And although it is perfect as it is, or maybe toasted with some cream cheese or butter on it – I knew that I could take it up to the next level!

Our good friends Roger & Jen gave us a loaf of Roger’s awesome Pumpkin Bread. I figured that if I took my basic french toast method and used it on this bread it would be amazing- and we were not disappointed!

Although all of your Thanksgiving Pumpkin Bread is probably gone for now – you can either try to find a loaf in the back of the freezer or bring back the awesome flavors of pumpkin and whip up a loaf for Christmas (or anytime for that matter, I love pumpkin!)

Pumpkin Bread French Toast

(figure at least 2 slices of bread per person and adapt the recipe from there)

  • 2 slices of your favorite Pumpkin Bread
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 pat of butter for your pan
  • Apple Butter & real Maple Syrup (& cinnamon) for topping

Slice your Pumpkin Bread. Mix up your egg(s) and milk. Allow your slices of bread to soak for at least 30 seconds on each side. While your bread is soaking, pre-heat a flat skillet with some butter. Over medium-high heat cook your French Toast – about 3 minutes per side (check at 3 minutes and see how its going – you want it browned but not burned, there is a fine line).

Once your Pumpkin Bread French Toast is cooked you want to top it with some Maple Syrup and Apple Butter and maybe even a sprinkle of Cinnamon!  🙂

And I leave you with this, Today’s Question of the Day… do you have a favorite way to use up a certain kind of leftover bread or do you ever make/buy a certain kind of bread just to turn it into something else?

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