Monday, February 23, 2009

Are you kidding me?

I can't believe it's been since before Valentines Day that I've posted something fun for you! I've been Facebooking, cleaning the garage, finishing up my dessert cookbook and playing with my puppy (when it's not snowing!)
This morning on Good Things Utah, I made Dark Chocolate Cake Bon-Bons - you can get the recipe by going to and click on Good Things Utah. Right now it's at the top of the "Most Favorite" category on the main page. All it is is a dark chocolate cake mix and some whatever you'd like to roll your bon-bons in, i.e. chocolate sprinkles, cocoa, cinnamon, etc. No matter who makes them, they love them so please put this recipe on your "gotta do" list.
I promised cooking tips each month so, here are my February submissions. I hope they help you be more comfortable in your own kitchen - in the meantime just remember we're officially less than a month away from Spring!!!!

1. Place a rubber mat or a wet dish towel underneath your cutting board to help keep it from

2. Tired of lumps in your hot cocoa? Once your powdered cocoa is in a bowl put just enough
water or milk in and mix to make a paste. Now you can gradually add the remaining liquid
and live lump-free!

3. Does your recipe call for cake flour? Remove 2 tablespoons from 1 cup of all-purpose flour
and replace it with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch; sift it to make sure it's well blended.

4. Use dental floss to cut any pastry roll type dish, i.e. cinnamon rolls, pizza rolls, etc. A knife
tends to crush the roll while dental floss easily cuts through the dough.

5. Grilling season will be here before you know it - when I'm making ka-bobs I always use metal
skewers to avoid the pre-soak that wooden skewers require. Make sure to lightly oil them
before sliding on the meat or veggies - it will help stop foods from sticking to the skewers.

6. Stop the bottom of ice cream cones from getting soggy by dropping in a mini marshmallow or
an upside down chocolate kiss. Not only will it stop the drips, it's an extra treat when the ice
cream's all gone!

7. If you're working with a recipe that's not in a cookbook...maybe you printed it off a website or
cut it out of a it inside a large resealable plastic bag to protect it from

8. People ask me how I keep track of all the recipes that I have...what works works best for me
is to purchase an accordian file and rename the tabs to reflect what kind of recipe you're
storing. I now have one for desserts, one for main dishes and one for side an
extra misc. accordian file. It's made a big difference when I'm tracking down a specific recipe.

Coming to in March...a series of Basic Cooking Tip Webisodes like how to seed avocadoes or segment citrus or how to seed tomatoes and green peppers. I taped them at Western Gardens, Ben Cook shot and edited them, and I hope you'll let me know what you think. I plan on creating an entire library of "did you know" type webisodes to help new cooks learn and remind "seasoned" cooks what they may have forgotten!

Have a wonderful week and, as always, I look forward to hearing from you,

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Valentines Day Eve

This year, Valentines Day is on Saturday. Most husbands, if they know what's good for them, take their wives out to make those reservations and start the entire "Weekend of Love" Friday night with a Super Supper for your Sweetheart!

You can make both the soup and the strawberry mousse in advance and save yourself some time. He'll feel so special after this meal, you may get a new pair of earrings along with your Saturday night out! Enjoy!

Start with Renee's Shrimp Cocktail Soup:

2 bottles of Clamato Juice
1/2 cup ketchup
1 cup Valentina Picante Sauce
1 Tablespoon celery salt
Juice of 4-6 limes (about 1/3 cup)
3-5 Serrano peppers, cut into rings (be careful!)
One medium onion, diced
6 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 medium bunches cilantro, finely chopped
6 avocados cut into small pieces
2 lbs. cooked, deveined, peeled shrimp

In a large bowl, pour all of the Clamato Juice, ketchup and picante sauce; stir well. Add celery salt, lime juice, sliced peppers, onions, tomatoes and cilantro; stir well. Gently stir in avocados and shrimp. Cover and keep in fridge.

Next up? My Crispy Pancetta Chicken with Rice

2 lbs. chicken breasts
1 t. thyme
2 t. rosemary
½ t. salt
1 T. Lemon Pepper
2 cups broth
6 oz. pancetta
1 cup diced onions
1 cup chopped and seeded tomatoes
3 T. cornstarch
Shredded Mozzarella

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Toss chicken breasts in herb mixture of thyme, rosemary, salt and lemon pepper. Pour chicken broth into bottom of pan and insert steamer rack. Place prepared chicken on rack; cover and steam for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.
While chicken is steaming, chop up pancetta and small dice onions. Sauté pancetta in large skillet until slightly crispy, add onions and continue to sauté until onions are softened and pancetta is very crispy. Remove from heat. Toss in chopped tomato last. Remove chicken from steaming rack and keep warm. Thicken remaining pan broth/juices with cornstarch; strain.
Serving Suggestions:
· Drizzle thickened pan juices over white rice
· Place steamed chicken on prepared rice
· Top with crispy pancetta mixture
· Drizzle again with thickened pan juices
· Sprinkle with shredded Mozzarella

...and for dessert? Strawberry Mousse!

1 (3 oz.) pkg. strawberry gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1 enveloped unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
1 (16 oz.) pkg. frozen strawberries, thawed
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 cups vanilla ice cream
1 cup heavy cream
Dissolve strawberry gelatin in boiling water. Dissolve unflavored gelatin in 1 tablespoon cold water. Puree frozen strawberries in blender. Add gelatin mixtures and sugar to the frozen strawberries and blend again. Add ice cream and cream, blending well. Pour into a wet 6 cup ring mold and freeze. To serve, unmold and let defrost for 15 minutes. Fill center with whipped cream if desired.