Monthly Archives: January 2011

Day 31…..The Book Club Cookbook

A cookbook dedicated to the recipes that book clubs make when discussing favorite books?  I now think I have seen it all.  But at the same time I am thinking to myself, “why didn’t I think of that?”.  Neat concept and some fun recipes.  I really wanted to make the Treacle Tart inspired by the reading of “Harry Potter”, but I didn’t know where to get golden syrup.  I did find out that treacle stands for dark molasses for those of you with curious minds like mine.  Instead I had to suffer through making the Death By Chocolate inspired by “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown.  I will just say that this cake is so good I can hear it calling my name right now…..shhhh….can you hear that too?  I did send a friend a text last night asking for her to come and get it out of my house.  Just be warned that if you make it…..make sure you have enough people there to finish the whole thing.  My other suggestions would be to either drink it with a cold glass of milk or a nice glass of dark red wine.  I opted for the wine as I am not a milk drinker, but I almost became a milk drinker as this cake is so rich.

The cookbook itself has no pictures.  However, I am a lover of books, so I actually like the premise of the cookbook.  It got me thinking what dish would I make for the current book that I am reading.  Well, now I am reading a bunch of nonfiction books, so those don’t count.  The most recent book of fiction that I read was “Committed” by Elizabeth Gilbert.  That book would inspire me to make something tropical as she spent many months while writing that book in warm humid locals.  What book are you reading right now and would it inspire you to make something? 

How easy is this cake to make?  Very easy as my husband made it.  Seriously he did not have many issues making the cake.  He did have problems creating a double boiler. I came to the rescue and shared with him my neat trick of putting the chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds and melting it a bit and stirring until it becomes all melted.  The heat from the melted chocolate will transfer to the rest of the chocolate helping it to melt.  I am sure he appreciated this trick!

Death By Chocolate, page 87


For the Cake:

  • 8 ounces dark chocolate
  • 5/8 cup (1 1/4 sticks) butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

For the Frosting:

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 9 ounces dark chocolate, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree.  Butter a 9 inch square pan, dust with flour, and tap out excess.
  2. To mae the cake:  In the top of a double boiler or in a small saucepan set in boiling water, melt the chocolate and butter together.  Set aside.
  3. With an electric mixer, beat together the eggs and sugar.  Mix in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and vanilla.  Gently fold in the melted butter and chocolate, and the sour cream.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted int he center comes out clean.  Allow to cool.
  5. To make the frosting:  Heat the cream in a small saucepan.  Add the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.
  6. Remove the cooled cake from the pan.  Pour frosting over cake and spread to even out.  Serve at room temperature. 

To Joy, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity


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Filed under Sweets, Uncategorized

Day 30….Slow Cooked Comfort

What isn’t to love about a slow-cooked meal?  It means we are home for several hours.  It means that we are taking the time to keep our eye on the pot on the kitchen.  For me, it means my whole family will be home for a meal.  I love taking the time to prepare those meals that take just a bit longer.  This cookbook is full of ones that inspire a lazy day at home…..coq au vin…..braised pork chops a la mapolitaine….and what I made, Cincinnati chili.

I had been to a chili cook off earlier and the week and I was treated to some great versions of chili.  It really made me open my eyes to the possibilities of chili.  The award-winning chili from that event can be found here where the winner was “Olivia & Keena’s Mexican Chocolaty Chili”, but my favorite was “Miles Pork Picadillo Chili”.  I need to make that Pork one this week.

So it should be no surprise that I wanted to make a chili in one of my cookbooks.  I have been to Cincinnati twice.  I have tried their chili, but the problem is, I can’t remember what it tasted like.  My sister is going to have to make this recipe and let us know if it tastes authentic.  I do remember that I thought it was strange that they serve their chili on top of spaghetti.  But after making this, I realized the consistency is perfect for spaghetti sauce.

Chili is one of those things that people have a favorite and they are pretty religious about it.  It seems like the chili that you grew up with is the one that you stand up for as an adult.  My memories of chili was using saltines with butter on them and dipping them in the chili…..yum.  For some it is a chili with beans or without beans.  For some it is the meat that defines the chili…..ground beef….shredded pork….chopped round steak…..chicken chunks.  For some it is all about the heat level.  This is not a four alarm chili, not even a two alarm chili.   This my friends is a sweet chili.  With hints of all sort of flavors, you are not quiet sure where to point at for the flavor.  One friend that I had taste it said it had an over powering taste of bay leaf….he was right!  I had just opened up a new jar of bay leaves and when I opened the jar I thought to myself, “so this is what a bay leaf is supposed to smell like”!

The recipe calls for a few things that I wasn’t so sure about.  Such as place the ground beef in 4 cups of water and cook.  I had never heard of such a things.  But I guess there are people doing it out there as a friend of mine knew someone who prepared her ground beef  that way.  The other thing that was hard is that it asked for whole cloves and whole allspice.  So when I gave someone a bowl, it was with the warning of watch out for the all spice and cloves!  If you are adventurous you will love this chili.  If you are a traditionalist, you will probably no like this chili.  However if you are from Cinciannti……let me know if you love this chili.

Cincinnati Chili, page 34


  • 2 pounds beef chuck, shoulder-blade, or brisket, coarsely ground
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup grated bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons commercial chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 5 whole allspice
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


  1. Put the meat and 4 cups water into a 5 1/2 quart Dutch oven.  Stir and bring to a boil on medium high heat; skim and discard the foam that rises on top.  Reduce the heat and simmer the meat uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir the tomato sauce and all the other ingredients into the beef.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. Cover the pot and simmer for another hour, stirring once in a while.  It can be made ahead of time.
  4. To serve: Reheat the chili over moderate heat.

To Joyful Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity


Filed under Main Dishes, Pasta, Soup

Day 29….Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

Have you heard of Guy Fieri?  He started on the Food Network hosting a show called “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives” and now he can be seen on NBC on the show “Minute to Win It”.  Not sure what cooking and a game show have in common?  Well I guess he has one of those personalities that could be labeled over the top….with his spiky bleach blond hair and backward sunglass wearing type of style.  Maybe he is trying to be the “rock star” of the cooking world?

Well if you have ever watched his show on the Food Network, he spends his time traveling around the country visiting hole in the wall places.  Places that don’t win any type of James Beard Awards but do have some of the best food in the country.  So of course it make sense to gather all of the recipes on the show under the covers of a cookbook, or in this case you can even get a Kindle edition of it.

I made the cap’n crunch french toast adapted from the recipe from the Blue Moon Cafe.  I think I have made this before a couple of years ago…..but I think my version had corn flakes in it instead.  What did the family think of cap’n crunch french toast?  All thumbs up…..middle son told me it was the best ever because he liked the crunch with it.  Youngest son ate about half of a piece…..he didn’t eat the crust…weird kid!  My husband wants you to know that if you make it, make sure that your cereal is finely ground, as it big chunks of cereal pieces just don’t work well.  It is also a little messy.  Oh and it is off the charts for the calories, but for a nice treat it is a fun breakfast for the whole family to enjoy!

I think this would be a great recipe to use for all the crumbs that are left in your cereal bags.  I know my kids never want to us the last serving of cereal as they don’t want any of the cereal dust in their bowl.  So this got me thinking about Fruit Loop french toast…..Cinnamon Toast Crunch French toast….Apple Cinnamon Cheerios French Toast…..the possiblities are endless.  What would your family love on their french toast?

I also used thin slices of bread so my cooking time was a lot less than what the recipe called for.  Because the cereal has so much sugar in it, please be carefull as it will burn more easily than your typical french toast.

Cap’n Crunch French Toast


  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups Cap’n Crunch cereal
  • 8 to 10 slices of bread, such as Texas toast or French bread
  • butter for cooking

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups assorted fresh seasonal berries


  1. Mix the cream, eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk until combined.
  2. Put the cereal in a storage bag and use a rolling-pin to crush cereal until it resembles cracker meal.  Transfer the cereal to a shallow dish.
  3. Dip a couple of slices of the bread into the cream mixture until soft but not completely soaked.  Let excess liquid drip from the bread, then press into the cereal crumbs to coat evenly.  Place on a sheet pan and repeat with he remaining slices.
  4. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat, add butter as needed, and cook the bread until caramelized on both sides, about 6-8 minutes total.
  5. For the whipped cream topping:  Beat the cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl with a hand mixer to soft peaks.  Dollop on top of the French toast and serve with the berries.

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity


Filed under Breakfast, Vegetarian

Week In Review: January 29, 2011

Did you miss any of my posts from the last week?  Never fear, as I will give you quick links to them and you too can make some fun family meals this week.  My top three would be the cookies and cream cupcakes, the chicken meatball tortellini soup and the red curry peanut noodles .  Enjoy the weekend and time with your loved ones!

Saturday: Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Sunday: Pizza Bubble Ring

Monday: Chicken Meatball Tortellini Soup

Tuesday: Buttermilk Hotcakes With Blueberries

Wednesday: Ragu Or Meat Sauce For Spaghetti

Thursday: Poblano-Chocolate Mole

Friday: Red Curry Peanut Noodles

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity

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Filed under Week in Review

Day 28……Food and Wine 2009 Annual Cookbook

Instead of getting the magazine you can wait until the end of the year and get the cookbook.  As a professional organizer I advise people against having more than 2 magazine subscriptions at a time.  The average person does not have time to read more than 2.  So getting them all in book form could solve that problem and make the professional organizer in me happy.  The book is packed full of recipes and many pictures, which of course I love.  I have found that I gravitate toward making the recipes that have the pictures in them, we all are such visual creatures.  So it comes to no surprise that I chose the red curry peanut noodles  because it had a picture.  Oddly enough we had the red curry paste on hand….can’t remember when the last time we used it however.  This dish can easily be turned into a vegetarian one by using vegetable broth instead of the chicken broth.

Easy to make as my oldest son made it.  He felt it needed a protein in it so we added some rotisserie chicken meat to it.  Oldest son loved it, middle son didn’t like how we served it cold and youngest thought it was not spicy enough.  Remember, this is the child who eats tabasco on his corn chips.  Can you get an ulcer from spicy foods?  If so, he is well on his way!  Well my husband did put red pepper flakes on his so this not spicy enough business runs in the family!

My time savers for this recipe (besides having my son make it) was to get the carrots in the bag that are already cut into match stick sizes for me.  I love those precut items!

Red Curry Peanut Noodles, page 89


  • 3/4 pound whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock or low sodium broth
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed cilantro leaves
  • kosher salt
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts quartered and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 carrot, coarsely grated
  • 1/3 cup salted, roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • lime wedges for serving


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the spaghetti and cook until it is al dente.  Drain the pasta and rinse under cold water until cool.  Drain very well.
  2. Meanwhile in a food processor, combine the peanut butter with the lime juice , red curry paste, chicken stock and 1/4 cup of the cilantro leaves and puree.  Season the peanut sauce with salt.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the spaghetti with the peanut sauce, bean sprouts, sliced scallions and grated carrot until well coated.  Season with salt.  Transfer the peanut noodles to bowls and sprinkle with the remaining cilantro leaves and the chopped peanuts.  Serve with lime wedges.

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity


Filed under Main Dishes, Pasta, Vegetarian

Day 27…..Prime Time Emeril

Emeril Lagasse…..the man who made me start shouting “bam” as I add spices to my meals.  This weird habit would get strange looks when I was sitting in a restaurant and put a little hot sauce on my meal.  Just kidding, I wouldn’t do that in public….especially if my teenagers were around as I wouldn’t want to embarrass them!  Just kidding, back to the cookbook.  It was published back in Emeril’s haydays of 2001.  He to me really was the first celebrity chef that hit it big on the Food Network.  Who didn’t enjoy watching a little Emeril on a Friday night?  But I only now see glimpses of Emeril on the new Cooking channel.  This cookbook is still full of good Emeril recipes like Hot Corn Dip with Crispy Tortilla Chips……Andouille Potato Salad…..or what I made Poblano Chocolate Mole.  The cookbook has several pictures…..of Emeril.

Poblano’s long use to be a fear of mine…..they looked so intimidating when the recipe said to char them and peel the skin.  But one day I decided to take the plunge and made my friend Sara’s Poblano Zuchini soup and my love affair has not stopped since.  Sara and her hubby Eric’s catering business also introduced me to my first taste of “mole” (pronounced moh-ley).  This sounds so exotic!  Mole is a spicy sauce flavored with chocolate, usually served with turkey or chicken, or as we served it with a pork tenderloin.  It was like destiny that I made this sauce.  I had conquered my fear of the poblano so I think I can make the mole. 

If you have never cooked with poblano’s before, here is a cautionary tale.  Do not touch your eyes or lips after handling them.  They are hot and your lips will tingle after you touch them.  I really need to invest in some gloves that I wear while cutting peppers.  I could get seriously hurt one of these days.  I have already been to the ER with a papercut to my eye so I know a poblano burn is in my near future!

This took some time to make, but I think it was well worth the effort.  I do not have a gas stove, so I roasted my peppers in a pan under the broiler….make sure to watch them.  I purchased a pork tenderloin and baked it with the sauce on top of it.  I also poured some of the sauce on once it was sliced and on our plates as well.  You could make this dish vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

Even the youngest child tried it.  See, he likes spicy foods.  He puts tabasco sauce on chips as an afterschool snack.  Nothing is too hot for this boy. 

My only other adjustment would be that the sauce needed to cook a little longer, as I like my mole thick like Mosaic Catering had made it.

Poblano-Chocolate Mole, page 184


  • 1 pound poblano chilies
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and halved (root ends left on)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup pistachio nuts
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups Chicken Stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  1. To roast the peppers, place them directly on the burners of a gas stove over medium heat and turn them frequently with tongs until all sides are charred black, 7 to 10 minutes.  (Alternatively, the peppers can be roasted under a broiler, or over a hot gas or charcoal grill.)  Transfer the peppers to a plastic or paper bag, seal the bag, and let cool for about 15 minutes.
  2. Roast the two onion halves over medium heat, using the same procedure, until the cut surfaces are lightly charred and the onion is slightly softened, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool.
  3. Peel the peppers, remove the seeds and stems, and coarsely chop the flesh.  Remove the root ends for the onions and coarsely chop them. (The chopped peppers and onion will yield about 2 cups.)
  4. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the pistachio nuts, pumpkin seeds, and pine nuts and cook, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are browned, about 5 minutes.  (The nuts will make popping sounds as they cook.)  Cover the skillet if the nuts start to jump out of the skillet.
  5. Add the chopped peppers and onions, the chili powder, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper and stir for 1 minute.  Add the chicken stock and cilantro and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes.
  6. Add the chocolate and stir until melted.  Add the cream, stir well, and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
  7. Puree the mole with an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender.  Serve warm.

 To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity


Filed under Main Dishes, Vegetarian

Day 26……Cooking For Comfort


This cookbook had me at the cover…..a warm bowl of macaroni and cheese with cheesy crust…..this to me is the definition of comfort food.  Pictures are lacking but the recipes are ones that would make you proud to have in your collection…..Great Roast Chicken….Chicken Potpie with Phyllo Crust…..and what I decided to make was the Ragu or Meat Sauce for Spaghetti.  This is very similar to the Rachel Ray Bolognese sauce that I make a couple of times a year.

In preparing the sauce I used my favorite shortcut.  I bought what my grocery store calls “soup starter”.  This is a combination of carrots, celery and onions.  I had used half earlier in the week for my chicken meatball tortellini soup and used the rest up with my ragu sauce.  I love this tip as it saves me time from having to chop everything and it saves me money as I can never seem to use the celery up before it turns all rubbery and gross.

We all ate the sauce…..except for the youngest one…..are you beginning to see a theme here?  Don’t use my youngest son as a good litmus test for most people.  But if you have a fussy kid who doesn’t like ground meat, then he would be a good barometer.  This for me will go under the file “Sunday Suppers” as I can imagine a pot of this simmering on the stove and my family gathering around making a big salad and slicing a loaf of french bread.  We all will enjoy our big bowl of comfort food……skip the sauce and just give the youngest boy noodles on his plate please!

Ragu Or Meat Sauce For Spaghetti, page 112


  • 1/2 cup minced carrots
  • 3/4 pound onions, minced
  • 2 thin slices pancetta, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound beef ground from a lean cut, like sirloin roast
  • 1/2 cup full-bodied dry red wine
  • one 25 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes with basil
  • one 6 ounce can no-salt added tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound spaghetti, cooked


  1. Saute the carrots, onions, and pancetta int he hot oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saute pan over medium-high heat until the ingredients begin to take on color.  Add the garlic and saute for 30 second; remove the carrot mixture and set aside.
  2. Brown the meat in the same pan over medium-high heat, stirring almost constantly to break the meat up into little pieces so it won’t clump together.
  3.  When the meat is brown, add the wine and cook quickly until it is almost evaporated.  Return the vegetable to the pan.  Add the tomatoes and juices, breaking up the tomatoes with your fingers before adding them to the pan.  Stir in the tomato paste and season with the salt and pepper.  Reduce the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for at least 1 hour; 2 hours is better.  Adjust the seasoning.
  4. Serve over spaghetti.

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity


Filed under Main Dishes, Pasta