Category: Cooking 101

Cooking Class


We have been eating all of our meals at home, except for a couple of visits to Young’s Lobster Pound. At Young’s, the girls got takeout, and also ate their lunch in the car. The weather has been too cold to sit at the picnic tables. Our other favorite restaurants, like The Hichborn, are closed until spring.

We have been eating well, and Lou made sure that would continue by assigning everyone a night to do the meal of their choice. Last night, Catherine & Beth showed me how to make Sesame Chicken. Tonight, Lou and Beth are making Vegetable Soup, I am in charge of takeout tomorrow, and Lou and Catherine are doing pork tenderloin on Friday.


Sesame Chicken & Fried Rice

I wanted someone to show me how to make one of the Asian recipes from The Guiltfree Gourmet. This is one of the food gurus I follow who makes low calorie, low sugar recipes. These are also low in WW points. Click for the full sized images.

Beth and Catherine agreed to show me how to make this, even though they had never made it. Presumably, their cooking skills are much more advanced than mine.

There was some grumbling about the large number of ingredients, but they stayed true to the recipe. I tried to assure them that The Guiltfree Gourmet did extensive testing, and had a reason for all of his ingredients.

The secret to keeping the sesame chicken crisp is to mix it with the sauce just before serving. Catherine did this masterfully 👍. Catherine started the fried rice, and Beth finished it up. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone, but this was cauliflower rice and it was g-o-o-d. Even Lou ate some.

There were a lot of steps. The breading called for crunched rice crispy cereal with a bit of panko and breadcrumbs. This mixture was then toasted in a pan on the stove. The sauce was made from several types of soy sauce, oyster sauce, chicken broth, and multiple spices. The chicken pieces were cut into bite-sized pieces, then marinated in a baking soda solution for 15-20 minutes to tenderize the chicken. Each piece of chicken was individually breaded. No shake and bake allowed! We had more chicken than the recipe called for, so the chef extended the breading with more panko. The tray of chicken bakes for 14 minutes, then each chicken piece is expertly flipped (that was my job) and returned to the oven for 6 minutes.

Both dishes came out great! Kudos to our chefs and to The Guiltfree Gourmet.

Thank you, Catherine and Beth, for helping me learn to cook sesame chicken! I will definitely use this recipe again to make the other variations on The Guiltfree Gourmet’s website. And the fried rice was an excellent way to showcase the versatility of cauliflower rice.


Stay Safe!!!

The Rest of the Story

First, thanks for tuning in to our Easter Challenge results. We had a lot of fun, and the next challenge is already in the planning stages. Thinking Halloween is the perfect holiday for a craft challenge. So many things to create, and many don’t require stepping in the kitchen. The challenge is open to everyone – you can also share anything crafty from your family and friends. We will send out a reminder once fall arrives. 

 

Now – the rest of the story about my crazy bunny butt project. I planned to make cupcakes, like I saw on Pinterest – so cute, and so many different ways to do them:

 

I made sure I had everything I needed before starting – I had a piping tip for the grass, candy melts for the feet, coconut for bunny fur, and I even found green frosting at Hannaford. 

As I was getting ready to start on Saturday morning, I saw a packet of Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix on the counter. 💡”Oh, that would be easier than cupcakes and would work.”  As I was looking for a cookie tray, I found a packet of cookie cutters. “Hey, there is a bunny in this set – this cookie idea is really taking off.” So I proceeded to mix up the sugar cookie dough …

 


Before I progress too far – take a look at that cookie cutter. Is it really a rabbit?  Or is it a koala, or a kangaroo?  I am pretty sure it is supposed to be a bunny. Self doubt is starting to settle in, but I continued. 

I have made sugar cookies before, like when I was twelve.  I don’t remember having as much trouble rolling out the dough, and getting the cookie shape on the baking tray. This is where I started having tortilla nightmares.  I didn’t stop to take a photo, but this one from my homemade tortilla fiasco is illustrative. 

 

 

Finally managed to make a number of the maybe-it-is-a-bunny shaped cookies, and baked them up in my easy bake oven (the toaster oven is my comfort zone). 

 


I kept looking at these maybe-it-is-a-bunny  cookies, and it hit me, “wait, the whole point of bunny butt cupcakes cookies is to have the butt up in the air and the head buried in the ground.  These maybe-it-is-a-bunny cookies have heads and the whole bodies.  This isn’t going to be believable ,%#$&”

Ready to give up, I forged ahead.  It briefly crossed my mind to go back to cupcakes, but I had already made a total mess in the kitchen, and my back was beginning to kill me from standing instead of enjoying my usual morning recliner time.

Another 💡moment – “what do cupcakes and cookies have in common? They are both circles on top.”  And yes, I had some circular cookie cutters in my vast supply of baking tools.  By this time, I was pretty darned good at getting the dough figured out – Lou cruised by and said, “ not bad.”  Thank you, Obe-wan.

 


So now I have some cookies I can work with. I prefer to call them cupcake tops.  The next steps should have been the fun ones – decorating. I started by trying to pipe the cute little grass on top of a cookie. Oh my … I wasn’t using a thick enough piping bag, and it started coming out all over me and the cookie  and looked nothing like grass.  Almost gave up again, but just spread some of the damn frosting on a cookie with a knife.

 


Then I was into totally new territory – candy melts.  Didn’t even know these existed – little did I know there is a whole YouTube culture built around candy melts and cake pops.  The Pinterest ladies said it was easy – just pop some melts in the microwave, heat them up, and make little feets.  Hehe – not so easy, but I just kept trying.  Then I had to repeat with pink candy melts for the little bunny toes. Oh My God – what looks so simple when Suzy Perky Cakepop Mom does it on YouTube was a disaster for me.  I couldn’t get the shape anywhere near right and I messed up a couple of good candy melt feet.  I wanted to give up, but I rolled some marshmallows in coconut and made a prototype anyway.

 

 

My first attempt at using the pink candy melts was a total disaster.  At this point, I was just over it, and decided to sleep on it.  I would either try again on Sunday morning, or find a large trash bag …

 

Easter morning comes, and it was time to tackle the bunny butts again. Never give up!  This time, I used the correct piping bag and managed to pipe out a little grass.  Then I tried again with the pink candy melts, and decided to drop them on the parchment paper, then stick them on the soles of the feet (glue with frosting, not super glue).  This worked much better because I could make a number of different sizes and just used what worked. The first effort from the morning:

 

I could have stopped here,  but the feet were too big …so I tried again.  The final version was acceptable, and I completed the Easter craft challenge. Here are my three tries – meet messy feet, big feet, and okay feet.  If I had used cupcakes, I could have made the little tushy more rounded, but marshmallows worked fine for my level of incompetence.

 

Key Learnings 

  • Make a plan, and stick with the plan – real cupcakes, not fake set-a-cookie-on-top-of-a-cupcake-foil, would have been better.!!!  
  • Practice new stuff before the final day – like piping grass and working with candy melts
  • Maybe skip kitchen-related projects for the next craft challenge 😜

 

 


A special thanks to Lou for putting up with me in his kitchen, and for letting me steal his sugar cookie mix, and for not shooting me for jumping in and coloring the eggs that he apparently wanted to do – oops.

 


Be Safe !!!

 

 

Catherine’s Carnitas

Yum!!!  Lou made pork carnitas today, and finished them off with Catherine’s trick of putting them under the broiler at the end. They are delicious !!!

 

P.S. – that is real cilantro,  not parsley !!!  

Be Safe !!!

Cooking is Difficult

In my quest to try and stay healthy, I am getting back in the kitchen.  While I have to continue trying to keep the Type 2 Diabetes in check, I also have been told to keep my sodium in control. Of course, we all know that, and have probably been told the same by our doctors,  but there is nothing like an unexpected three week spa visit to drive home the point. 

Lou has also been helping and is trying to keep the salt use to a minimum in his cooking. 

 

Today, I made up a batch of the quick Chipotle pinto beans. These make a good low cal dish when served over lettuce and riced cauliflower.  And a few sprigs of cilantro help to give it the Mexican flare.

 

 

It tasted pretty good, especially when I added a dollop of sour cream. It would have been even better, had I actually used Cilantro instead of PARSLEY !!!  Yech. It was fine once I picked the parsley out. I did buy cilantro – I even checked my grocery slip. Guess I am not the only one who can’t tell the difference!!!  

Cooking is hard for some of us …

 

Be Safe!!!

Back in the Kitchen 👩🏻‍🍳

My cooking efforts have been sidelined for a while, but Lou has been cooking up a storm. I did get back into take out mode with pizza last week.

I had a project to do, and Lou was prompting me to get it done. There is no Creme de Cacao in the entire large city of Belfast, so I planned to make some. I wanted to do this to make a green drink for St. Patrick’s Day … but then, I found out it would take two weeks. As with most of my cooking projects, I kind of lost interest 😜🙄😉 given the time delay.

Inspired to get it done (I really wanted a green drink), I tackled it today, with just a hint of supervision. The first thing to do was chop/grate the Raw Cacao Butter:

Yep – raw cacao butter and vodka. Already sounding tasty. And yes, every house should have a collection of beakers on hand.


Now we let it sit and soak for a couple of weeks:


Be Safe!

Armchair Chili

Trying out a new recipe today – actually an old one, but new to me 😉

It is rainy and windy – a good day for a crock pot full of chili. My goal is to do all the cooking stuff, and just consult with my armchair expert when necessary.


We lost power just as I added the last ingredient, and the generator didn’t come on. Lou (the armchair guy) quickly diagnosed the issue and had the generator on. Power came back within half an hour.

Stop by later to see how the chili comes out. I will update after dinner.

Report: so hungry forgot to take a pic, but it looked like chili. It was good … came out on the sweeter side compared to the Armchair Chef’s spicier versions – but still good, and Lou didn’t have to cook.

Rained off and on all day!!!