Thursday, November 19, 2009

Are you a Martha or a Rachel?

So Martha Stewart just had her first on-air interview and when asked about Rachel Ray, she was pretty harsh in dissing her skill sets and the the sophistication of her recipes and what is in her cookbook. Martha says,

"Well, to me, she professed that she could -- cannot bake," said Stewart. "She -- just did a new cookbook which is just a re-edit of a lot of her old recipes. She -- and that's not good enough for me. I mean, I really want to write a book that is a unique and lasting thing. Something that will really fulfill a need in someone's library. So, she's different. She's -- she's more of an entertainer than she is, with her bubbly personality, than she is a teacher, like me. That's not what she's professing to be... She does it very differently than I do, she's a totally different kind cook than I am. I don't know if she has a garden, I don't think so, but if she does, she doesn't show that on her show so much."

Now, I know that Rachel Ray gets dissed a lot and many, many people do not like her. However, I happen to be a Rachel fan. I cannot bake. I am not a formally trained cook, nor do I really desire to be. I have learned how to put together simple recipes or cook basic things that people enjoy and don't involve a heck of a lot of skill. This whole notion is basically why I started this blog in the first place. I know I haven't been putting up a lot of recipes, and I will try to do more. However, I wanted to post Rachel's response because I think it is pretty darn classy. I love classy responses. Her and Beyonce both have gold stars from me lately. Rachel's response was...

"Why would it make me mad?" said Ray. "Her skill set is far beyond mine. That's simply the reality of it. That doesn't mean that what I do isn't important too... I don't consider it needling. I really just think she's being honest. She does have a better skill set than I do when it comes to producing a beautiful, perfect, high-quality meal. I'd rather eat Martha's than mine, too."

Love it. I'm so a Rachel and am perfectly happy with that. What are you? A Rachel or a Martha? What do you aspire to be?

The full article via and found via @vasta's RT of @amateurgourmet

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chocolate Expo at State Museum

Chocolate? Wine? Specialty foods? Art? Jewelry? Live music? FREE?

Yes, I know where I will be on Sunday, December 6th. Who is with me?

"Eat everything in sight" days

So, recently I e-mailed the members of the Communications Leadership Development Program (CLDP) that I am a part of. The CLDPs have become somewhat of a family over the past 20 months, despite the fact that some of them I have only met in "real life" a handful of times. We talk daily about work, bosses, life, becoming grown ups, relationships and anything that one of us needs the other for. When I started this blog I sent a note around to the crew to check it out if they got a chance and also, to pass along any recipes or food ideas that they had.

The following is the e-mail chain that took place between me and the one male in my program after I sent out that e-mail. I found it funny and it went along with a few other conversations I've had recently.

Pretty much every girl I know can relate to the feeling of having an "eat everything in sight" day. In fact, one of my friends e-mailed me the after I posted about what to do with leftover Halloween candy (which happened to be the very next day after I had this e-mail conversation with Matt). She told me to save leftover candy for one of these days.

Is it really just girls that have "eat everything in sight" days? Do any other guys agree with Matt?

Benvie, Matthew (GE Infra, Aviation, US)
Tuesday, November 03, 2009 2:02 PM

To: Buress, Katelyn (GE, Corporate)
Subject: RE: Read my blog!

I made killer chocolate chip pancakes last night. Secret ingredient? Extra chocolate chips.

From: Buress, Katelyn (GE, Corporate)
Sent: Tuesday, November 03, 2009 2:31 PM
To: Benvie, Matthew (GE Infra, Aviation, US)
Subject: RE: Read my blog!

That sounds so delicious. I'm having an "eat everything in sight" day. Do boys have days like that or is it just girls?

From: Benvie, Matthew (GE Infra, Aviation, US)
Sent: Tuesday, November 03, 2009 2:36 PM
To: Buress, Katelyn (GE, Corporate)
Subject: RE: Read my blog!

I can only speak from anecdotes and personal experience... but boys treat every day like it's "eat everything in sight" day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Adventures of Vegetables: Brussel Sprouts.

So, I have decided that I want to explore cooking new veggies. My staples are asparagus and broccoli but I want to branch out more. I recently tried brussel sprouts for the first time and despite their bad rep as a scary and despised veggie, I actually liked them.

On my last trip to the grocery store I was intrigued so I bought some with the plan of looking up a recipe online. I actually didn't have to go that far and was recommended a way to cook them by my boss at work. I made them for dinner tonight and ate them alongside some risotto that I made (it's from a box, I'm not that good... yet).

Cooking the brussel sprouts isn't really a recipe but just a method so the amounts and the actual ingredients don't really matter. However, what I used was...

- brussel sprouts
- almonds
- olive oil
- butter

I started by cutting the white, stemmy end of the brussel sprout off and unwrapping the outermost layers of the brussel sprout and throwing it away. My boss advised me to clean them well and remove the outermost part because they can taste bad otherwise. I wasn't sure exactly how much to take off but I thought of it as a mini head of iceberg lettuce, and pulled off the first layer.

Then, I steamed the brussel sprouts for about 7-8 minutes using my flexible steaming basket thingy (don't know the actual term for it, but it is essential)... I figured out when they were done by pulling one out and cutting through the sprout. I tested a couple times and when I was able to cut through them easily, I decided they were done (I have no idea if this is an advisable method or not, but it worked for me).

In a frying pan, I heated a little oil and tossed in some chopped almonds. I was told to use almond slivers, but I adjusted that based on what we had in the apartment. I added so
me butter to the oil and just let that warm together and the almonds brown a bit. When the brussel sprouts were steamed, I cut the big ones in half and tossed it all in the butter/oil/almond mix. Voila!

My delicious meal, eaten by candlelight with a glass of wine and my Twilight book. Perfection.

It was quite delicious, I must say.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dinner for two.

When you are 23 and you work 10+ hours a day, this is sometimes how you eat dinner.

My meal:
- 2 Toasted english muffin with margarine
- Carrots and hummus
- Cheez-Its

Jen's (my roommate) meal:

- Goldfish
- Mortadella
- Some radish, celery, and mushroom with hummus
- Some pickles & olives
- Cup of shredded wheat cereal

This is all for today. We're going out for a celebratory drink in honor of Jen kicking some butt at work. Tomorrow I'll attempt to cook brussel sprouts. Seee ya!

P.S. Add a little pepperoni onto my list. Ooh la la!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What to do with all that candy

Yes, I know, my favorite thing to do with Halloween candy is eat it. However, in the spirit of being healthy, I found an article on the Albany Times Union Web site that offers some suggestions of what to do with excess Halloween candy.

We had some rain in the Capital Region on Halloween so people saw less trick-or-treaters coming around. If you've got bags of leftover Halloween candy, I suggest you check out this article. I love the idea of sending your candy to Operation Gratitude to be included in care packages for U.S. troops. It might even been a nice idea to pick up some of the 50-75% off candy and send over to this group anyways.

Hope you all had a great Halloween. We've got a few weeks before the holiday eating season really kicks off, so I'm going to try and be healthy before that! Some pics for your enjoyment from my Halloween...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Erin's Artichoke Pie

- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 cans non-marinated artichoke hearts, quartered
- uncooked pie shell and top
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 c grated cheese
- 1 c shredded mozzarella cheese

Saute finely-chopped garlic in olive oil. Drain artichoke hearts and add to oil. Brown lightly over high heat. Spoon into 9 inch uncooked pie shell.

In a bowl, beat together eggs and grated cheese until blended. Pour over artichoke mixture. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese on top. Top with pastry, flute the edges, cut vents.

Bake in a pre-heated 450 degree over for 15 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes. Cover outer edges with foil. Remove foil 10 minutes before end of cooking.


The recipe is my friend Erin's and she has always made this pie whenever there has been a potluck type event. It is delicious and I was excited to try and make it on my own.

Whenever I've had it, I've always been impressed with the presentation as well as the taste, so I was excited and surprised to find out that it was surprisingly simple to make! I make quiches often and it really wasn't all that different. I have never made anything that I'd call a "pie" though and somehow the word scares me. I'll tell you though, store bought pie crust is amazing.

I picked up some from the frozen food section and bought a package of two 9-inch ready to bake crusts, in convenient silver dishes also that you can bake and serve them in. Since this pie requires a top, I just used one of the two as the top of the pie. It didn't make for the prettiest pie, but I was still proud! The pie came out delicious... I shared it with my roommates and still have a ton leftover for meals the rest of the week. It is good served both warm and cold so it is good to bring to picnics or potlucks. I had a piece for lunch today cold so it is definitely a leftovers friendly meal!

And a few additional notes on my first pie baking experience...

I noticed after I put the pie in the over that I was supposed to wrap the edges in tinfoil. I wasn't sure if this was a really necessary step, but I wanted to be sure. So, I took the pie out, awkwardly wrapped the edges in tinfoil and put it back in until 10 minutes until the end. It seemed to work out well... not burnt crusts here! However, I have no idea if this was necessary or not.

Also, I am already thinking of the future and how I can personalize this pie and make changes to make it a little different. I think that if I add spinach to the pie, it would come out really good. And some melty, stringy cheeses... mmm... I feel like it wouldn't be too hard to basically turn this into spinach/artichoke dip wrapped up in pie crust. And how freaking good does that sound?


Sunday, November 1, 2009

A chicken chili feast!

We are deep into fall now, and as I mentioned, I am really into “fall” foods. Over the past few years, I have been getting more and more into the cold-weather classic, chili. I'm not the hugest fan of beans so when I was recommended a beanless chicken chili recipe by my colleague, Becky, I was game to try it!

When looking at a recipe, I try to look at them as a guideline or suggestion for the meal. I think one of the major things that people need to realize when they are starting out with cooking, is that you have the freedom to experiment and alternate the recipe to your tastes.

So with this dish, I used less onion and more red peppers than recipe called for. Based on my tastes, I figured I would like it more if I switched those things around. I also put a little more garlic in than the recipe suggested, because I just loooove garlic. When you are cooking (baking is another story), look at a recipe as a guideline and not a rule.

The recipe actually was from Ina Garten on the Food Network and has pretty simple ingredients and is low maintenance. I planned ahead and wrote out the ingredients before I headed to the grocery store, but wouldn't you know it, I left the list at home so I shopped off of memory. Luckily, the recipe is really simple, and after visiting the grocery store, I realized it is really cheap also!

Visit the link and read the full recipe for yourself, but what I purchased and the prices are below. I couldn't remember what kind of canned tomatoes to buy so I just guessed at what I thought would be best and ended up using them all.

- Small can of diced tomatoes .79
- Large can of smashed tomatoes .99
- Package of 4 chicken breasts 6.98
- 3 Red peppers 2.99
- Large red onion 1.29
- McCormick white chicken chili seasoning mix 1.49
- Skim milk .89
- 6pack of eggs .89
- Corn bread mix .47

The total for this complete meal is around $17 and it feeds a lot. I served 4, including myself, we all had seconds, and there was still some leftovers to put in the fridge. Definitely beats a restaurant price any day! Ingredients that I already had on hand were the very basics. I had garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Also, the milk and eggs were for the cornbread mix, which is totally optional. The ingredients for it all were really cheap, so why the heck not though?

You'll also notice that instead of all of the different seasonings, I bought a McCormick mix. Well, some may call that cheating, but I call it practical. I don't keep a lot of spices and seasonings in the house. I have a small kitchen I share with 3 other people, it is hard to keep things around unless they are used on a regular basis... which I wouldn't with my seasonings. The McCormick mix was a great way for me to still complete this recipe but not have to buy a bunch of seasonings I probably wouldn't use for a long time again. It was cheap, it tasted great, and nobody knew my secret when I served the meal :)

My dinner guests and critics on this day were my roommate Jackie and our two friends Ernest and Alex. We had a lot of fun hanging out, cooking, carving pumpkins, watching scary movies, and drinking pumpkin beers. It was a great weekend recipe and I highly recommend it for anybody. I think it would be good for large groups, movie nights or game days, etc. and it is also easily adaptable. Chili is a pretty common thing, but a chicken chili is a little unique and it offers a lot of possibility for you to make it your own. I so loved this recipe and so did everybody else, Jackie's exact words were, "This is the best thing I have ever eaten in my life." ... not too bad, eh?