Friday, March 14, 2008

A little help from a food fan...

I have a friend that loves to cook, and more so to eat, just as much as I do. However, the last time we were together cooking and laughing, she just wasn't eating as much as she normally does. Being the good friend I am, I was worried about her. (Okay, so I was worried that I was going to have to eat the entire Chocolate Ganache cake all by myself and end up sick the rest of the night.) So I asked her what was wrong. She said she was fine but continued to pick at her cake. Finally she started laughing.

I guess a friend of hers had given her a diet drug to try called hoodia. I have heard it advertised all over the place and I had always wondered if it worked. Well I guess she had too, so she tried it. Now she is by no means fat but she would happily lose 20 or 30 pounds and not feel guilty. So she tried this stuff and she was as amazed as I was. It totally curbed her hunger. There she sat with a cold glass of milk and a fresh piece of Chocolate Ganache cake and she was not even interested in eating.

After all was said and done, she decided that she enjoyed eating too much to continue taking something that powerful, but we were both amazed at the effects it had.

Here is the recipe we were using. It is one of my favorites from Barefoot Contessa. I have tweaked it a little here and there but I will give you the orignal so you can play with it and get it perfect for you.

Chocolate Ganache Cake

1/4 lb butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 (16 ounce) can hershey chocolate syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

For the ganache

1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Butter and flour an 8 inch round cake pan, then the bottom with parchment paper.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time.
  5. Mix in the syrup and vanilla.
  6. Add the flour and mix until JUST combined (overbeating will make the cake too tough).
  7. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until just set in the middle.
  8. Let cool thoroughly in the pan.
  9. For the ganache, cook the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.
  10. Place the cake upside down on a wire rack and pour the glaze evenly over the top, making sure to cover the entire cake and sides.
  11. You can tilt the rack to smooth the glaze.
  12. Do not refrigerate.

1¼ hours
20 min prep

Makes one 8" cake

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Featured Food Flyaway

I spent the last evening at my son's Country Fair at school last night. It was amazing what these kids can do! They had so much information and so many wonderful visuals but best of all, they had SO much good food! So I thought I would take a hint from them and feature a Food Flyaway each week. This week I was noticing that there are really cheap flights to the Mexican Island of Cozumel. So for those of you that are feeling like some authentic Carne Asada or Flan. This would be the time to plan a weekend getaway to a beautiful island for some great food, warm beaches and a golden tan.

And for those a little less adventurous, but still feeling like living on the edge you can always try some of these recipes fresh from the island of Cozumel.

Agua Fresca
If you have traveled through Mexico, you have probably seen these refreshing fruit drinks sold on street corners. Melon is used in this recipe, but almost any fruit can be used. Just be sure to adjust for the amount of sugar, which will depend on the sweetness of the fruit.

3 cups of cubed fresh melon (cantaloupe, honeydew, or watermelon)
4 tablespoons of sugar
3 tablespoons of lime juice, fresh preferred
1 quart of water
Melon sliced for garnish


Bunuelos with Anise Syrup


1/2 large lime 4 cups water
4 cones piloncillo* (about 14 ounces), coarsely chopped
1 orange, quartered
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon aniseed


3/4 cup water
3/4 cup orange juice
1 large egg
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons lard, melted, cooled
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 cups (about) all purpose flour
Vegetable oil (for frying)


For Syrup:
Combine all ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until piloncillo cones dissolve, about 5 minutes. Increase heat and boil until syrup thickens enough to coat spoon thinly, about 20 minutes. Strain syrup into bowl. (Syrup can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm before using.)

For Buñuelos:
Combine 3/4 cup water, 3/4 cup juice, 1 egg, 3 tablespoons sugar, 3 tablespoons lard, 1 tablespoon rum, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in large bowl; whisk to blend well. Gradually add 5 cups flour, stirring until soft, slightly sticky dough forms. Add more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is very sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rest 1 hour. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half. Divide each half into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece into round ball. Roll out each piece to 6-inch round. Let dough rounds rest 15 minutes. Pour enough vegetable oil into heavy large pot to reach depth of 1 inch.
Attach deep-fry thermometer and heat oil to 365°F to 370°F. Fry dough rounds, 2 at a time, until golden and puffed, turning rounds occasionally with tongs, about 2 minutes. Transfer buñuelos to paper towels to drain. Arrange buñuelos on platter. Drizzle generously with warm syrup. Serve, passing remaining syrup separately.*Mexican raw sugar shaped into hard cones. Smaller chunks are sometimes labled panocha. If neither is available, substitute an equal weight of packed dark brown sugar. Attach deep-fry thermometer and heat oil to 365°F to 370°F. Fry dough rounds, 2 at a time, until golden and puffed, turning rounds occasionally with tongs, about 2 minutes. Transfer buñuelos to paper towels to drain. Arrange buñuelos on platter. Drizzle generously with warm syrup. Serve, passing remaining syrup separately.

*Mexican raw sugar shaped into hard cones. Smaller chunks are sometimes labeled panocha. If neither is available, substitute an equal weight of packed dark brown sugar.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


This has nothing to do with food, other than we were at a restaurant, but I thought this was pretty funny. We were at the local Village Inn and we had just received our ticket and I had given her my credit card. She brought me back my receipt and a pen. She had personalized pens with a little note that says "This pen was stolen from....." and her name. As I was signing my name my little Jayce, who is just learning to read, asked his sister to read the pen to him. She read it verbatim...... "This pen was stolen from Mary Smith" (I don't remember the waitresses name) and Jayce stopped and stared at me. After thinking for a minute he said, "Mommy, it's not nice to steal! You should unsteal it right now!"

After I finished laughing and signed the receipt, I walked with Jayce over to the waitress and handed her her pen back and apologized to her for stealing her pen. She looked puzzled for a minute and then upon looking down at Jayce and back at the pen you could see it dawn on her what was going on. She thanked me for returning her pen and I could hear her chuckling as we walked away. Little Jayce was so proud of himself for rescuing the pen that I have not been able to tell him yet, that mommy would never steal something and that was just her way of keeping track of her pens. Funny adult jokes are most often lost on the small innocence of children.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Summer Garden Salad

I am all for easy and good and this recipe satisfies both. It is a great summer time salad to start any dinner off right. It's mixture of flavors and textures will satisfy even picky eaters and the over all presentation is beautiful. Add a bread stick or two and this could be a complete meal by itself.

1 head iceberg lettuce
1 head romaine lettuce
2 ripe avocados, sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 medium carrots, grated
4 medium radishes, sliced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 small yellow bell pepper, chopped

Chop and mix the lettuces. Add all remaining ingredients and toss. Dress with a light vinegar and oil or vinaigrette dressing.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Work At Home Mother's Babysitter

I have been a work at home mom (which I feel is a very redundant title) for the last 4 years and I love it. But I have had trouble with the kids eating while I am working and their Dad is not yet home. Most of the time they are really great at watching television and playing quietly but the television is upstairs, just outside the kitchen, in the living room. My office is downstairs.

The little ones will pour themselves bowls of cereal, make themselves sandwiches and even toast. All the while my older children are totally engrossed in what ever television show they are watching. So I have devised a plan. I have the tv mounted on the wall furthest away from the door to the kitchen. I have mounted nursery camera's facing the television (not only can I see the children, I also always know what they are watching) and I can see when the little ones get up and head for the kitchen giving me time to stop them. So far so good, this has been working. But the best deterrent has been always having an appropriate snack out that they can eat with out worry. I will usually put out celery or carrot sticks and ranch dressing, peanut butter cracker sandwiches or fruit slices. Things that they can not make too large a mess with, that are healthy and won't ruin their dinner too terribly.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Food on the run

I can not count the many, many times I find myself out and about when my children's tummies decide that it is lunchtime and they need food now! Unfortunately I think I got defective children because from the time they came off the assembly line their tummies never did function normally. It began a little bit at a time, first the spitting up and constant pooping, then the picky eating and now they are completely whacked! When my children's tummies are hungry it messes up the whole system! We can be driving along singing, playing silly car games and laughing and it's almost like someone threw a switch. Tummies hungry so the brain gets irritated, the face becomes contorted in a fit of anger at a simple gesture of fun from Brother. I have not yet figured out how to rewire my children so that when they are hungry the rest of their little bodies stay normal and their mouths just say, "Mommy, I am hungry. Can I eat as soon as we get home? I can wait an hour or so for you to finish all the errands you have to run." Yeah, so I am dreaming!

But what is a mother to do? I have worn out my ability to eat at McDonald's, just the thought is enough to turn my stomach. Arby's and Wendy's are overdone as well and most everything else is too expensive. I wish they made dash kits that installed easily into a mini van and at the touch of a button could pop out a fully prepared dish of Baked Alaskan Salmon or Veggies and Pasta tossed in a light Garlic Butter Sauce. (i.e. healthy, delicious food). I have just had way more than my share of greasy fast food.

Well, so far as I can find, something like that is years in the making. But until then I have found that carrying a baggie of healthy, relatively non-messy treats like carrots, raisins or cheese and peanut butter crackers, helps to ease the raging tummies until we can get home and have something that will not give us a heart attack. Plus it's a good alternative for me when the munchies strike as well. I have started keeping a bag of treats in my van at all times. It has worked wonders for my family.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Chocolate, the Devil in Disguise???

I am a huge chocolate fan, some kindly refer to me as a chocoholic which I could never deny, however, I began to worry about the effects that the chocolate I eat daily, and in amounts that would make an elephant ill, could be having on my body. The first and most noticeable signs are the slightly bulging tummy and the ever increasing need for a good acne treatment. However, what other effects could it be having on me?

Well, I decided to try an experiment, one I don't expect to work too well as I am constantly surrounded by chocolate and I have the self control of a hungry wolf, but still, I am going to try it. I am going to attempt a chocolate fast. For three days I will attempt to restrain from consuming any chocolate at all. (Those of you who know me are already shaking your heads. You of little faith! I may show you all!)

My reasoning for this is that lately I just generally feel crappy all the time. I am tired and achy and one of the things that has changed most drastically in my recent life is my chocolate intake. So, in an attempt to narrow down what could be making me feel so yucky all the time, I am going to attack first, my diet. I will update with my progress as I crash and burn!