When The Weather Is Bad

Well… at least yesterday’s snow didn’t stick around. I guess I can tolerate the rain and wind better than snow. Anyway, since it’s too wet and cold outside; I decided to use the opportunity to work on my food portfolio. Then I realized with the nasty weather; I’ve been lazy about going to the grocery store. And all I have to work with were a couple of very ripped bananas. I decided to make Banana & Walnut Pancakes. A couple of hours later, I got some pretty interesting shots that I think will work well for my portfolio. Hope you enjoy the pictures and of course the pancakes. If you like bananas, you will love this recipe — which I will post on my Foodie With Camera website.


Oh, For The Love of Rum!

I’m not much into drinking liquor but I love cooking with it. Thought I would try something different and make a recipe with lots of butter and rum. I decided to create a recipe for a pie. The result: Cranapple Crumble Pie with Warm Apple & Butter Rum Sauce; a sinfully delectable pie that would make Captain Jack Sparrow a very happy pirate — singing, Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of rum.

One of my favorite things to do besides cooking is developing recipes. And even though I owned over 100 cookbooks, I have a habit of not wanting to follow the recipes exactly. I find recipe development exciting and fun. It’s interesting experimenting with all the different ingredients and discovers new tastes. The difficult part about recipe development for me is keeping track the exact amount of the ingredients. I am one of those cooks who eye balls the ingredients instead of measuring. Though, I would say most of my recipe experiments have produced good results. There have been times where it even exceeds my expectation. And yesterday’s experiment was one of those great moments. The butter and rum add a luscious quality to the pie. It tastes savory, yet at the same time delicate and not overly sweet. And the aroma of the spices permeates your senses, creating a sense of warmth and comfort for the home. This would be the perfect pie to make for the holiday dinner. I will have the complete recipe with photos for tomorrow’s post. 🙂

It’s More Than Just A Cookie – part 2

“The cookies tasted terrible. They were hard and lumpy. Instead of the enjoyment I had envisioned; I was told not to make any more cookies. With tears in my eyes, I threw all the brown poop lumps into the garbage.”

I sat on the steps feeling dejected from my failed attempt at baking and was afraid that Tina would be disappointed with me. The next day, I went over to Tina’s as soon as I got home from school. And when she asked me about the cookies, tears welled up in my eyes as I explained about the failed cookies. Instead of being upset, she just smiled and comforted me. She explained to me the importance of the ingredients I had omitted. Then she went on to bake the cookies again with me so that I could see it done properly.

I’m happy to say, the cookie lesson paid off. Defying my dad’s order of never to make cookies again — I baked three-dozen gooey, chewy, mouth-watering cookies that forever changed the opinions of my family about my baking ability. As for Tina –to say she was a nice neighbor would be an understatement. Tina was the special “mom” to me for the next three years. And to this day, her many life lessons stayed with me.

 That’s why every time when I bake chocolate chip cookies; it is more than just cookies for me. It’s about someone showing love and kindness. And perhaps that’s why Chocolate Chip Cookies is the most popular. It’s a simple cookie — yet when you bite into it; the warm and fuzzy feeling you get is unexplainable.

So… here is the recipe to make these wonderful cookies. I hope they will make you feel warm and fuzzy…  🙂

Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Large Eggs
2 cups Chocolate Chips (12-oz. pkg)
1 cup Chopped Nuts

Make Approx. 36 Cookies

Preheat: Oven to 375 F
Combine: Flour, baking soda and salt in small bow. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
Baked: For 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

The direction on the package seems simple enough. However, as I have discovered during my first attempt; the direction can be misleading for someone who is not familiar with baking techniques. Tina gave me some tips not listed on the package direction and that is to — scrape the bowl constantly during beating of the dough. This insures all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. So that the cookies will spread evenly during baking. And another tip is to not add all the flour mixture at once. It will save you a great deal of mess if you add about 1/2 cup at a time but also you would not lose any ingredients. As I’ve learned the hard way that even 1 teaspoon can make a big difference between success and failure on the outcome.

Here is a tip on how to get perfect, round, even size cookies  — the ice cream scoop. It is one of the must have cooking tools to have in your kitchen.

Have fun and enjoy!

Wholesome Goodness for $6.25

During my errands yesterday, I stopped by one of the many pho restaurants for a quick bite. Pho restaurants have become increasing popular and I can understand why. For seven dollars or less, you can get a bowl of delicious noodle soup with various kinds of topping. The rich, aromatic pho broth is prepared by boiling the beef or chicken bones for hours along with spices such as ginger, cloves, star anise and cinnamon.  Pho is served with a side dish of  items such as lime, bean sprouts, chilis and Thai basil leaves. Sauces such as hoisin sauce; a thick dark sauce, and the Thai chili sauce called SRIRACHA are also served with the Pho. This chili sauce is excellent in soups, sauces, pastas, or on anything else to give it a spicy taste. I like to use it in place of mayonnaise for sandwiches. It gives the sandwich the extra flavor and about 100 fewer calories.

For the same price as a typical fast food meal, Pho soup is considerably better for you; although some places do use MSG (monosodium glutamate) in making the broth, so make sure to ask if you don’t like MSG or is allergic. Next time when you are out and looking for something good to eat, try a bowl of Pho; the Vietnamese noodle soup.