Thursday, October 11, 2012

Chicago Chocolate Tour

I have some GREAT friends!

My friend Nicole surprised me with a walking tour from Chicago Chocolate Tours.  Let's just say I was so excited I may or may not have squealed a pitch so high that only my dogs could hear it.  After a lot of deliberation, we picked the Chocolate Locations of Lakeview and on what could possibly one of the most gorgeous weekends of the year so far, set out for an afternoon of Chicago and chocolate.

I left my husband at home.  He was not pleased.  I did not care.

So we met up for some pre-chocolate lunch.  Yes, we ate in preparation for a chocolate tour.  We decided to go with sushi from Tank Sushi on Lincoln Avenue.  This is just a sampling of what we got:

Tank Sushi, how I love you

We planned on only eating a little to make sure we had plenty of room for chocolate.  Instead, we ate about $90 worth of sushi.  Yes, it was that good.

Not that I had any issues eating all the chocolate put in front of me, though.

We met up with our tour guide Sarah at Argo Tea in Lakeview.

Sarah is adorable and I wanted her entire outfit.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Catch-up Recipe Round-up for May 24-25, 2012

If anyone makes one of these recipes, I’d love for you to let me know, give me your thoughts and even take a picture or two.  I’d LOVE to start posting updates from other cooks, such as myself.  Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect.  That’s the point of this blog.

All pictures came from the website specified.  You can click on the picture or recipe name to follow the link to their website.

Food Network

Total Time: 15 min
Prep: 15 min
Yield: 4 servings
Level: Easy

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Empanadas

If you want to see a commentary-free version of this recipe, go here!

On occasion I like to torture myself.  There are many things that I have tried to make and they never quite turn out right.  bite-size breakfasts, cut-out cookies, pasta with chickpeas and empanadas/calzones.

It is so frustrating because I love them.  The perfectly baked dough.  The delicious fillings perfectly heated.

Nope, never happens for me.

I’m not sure why I thought this would be any different, but when I saw this recipe for Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Empanadas from Pillsbury, I just HAD TO MAKE IT!  I know it is going to taste good, but I know it won’t be as pretty as the perfect little empanadas on Pillsbury’s website.

Or would they?

© You Want Me to Cook?
Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Empanadas

Monday, September 3, 2012

Catch-up Daily Recipe Round-up for May 21-23, 2012

If anyone makes one of these recipes, I’d love for you to let me know, give me your thoughts and even take a picture or two.  I’d LOVE to start posting updates from other cooks, such as myself.  Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect.  That’s the point of this blog.

All pictures came from the website specified.  You can click on the picture or recipe name to follow the link to their website.

Food Network

Total Time: 35 min
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 15 min
Yield: 6 servings
Level: Easy

Friday, August 24, 2012

My Wilton Portfolio – Chapter #3: Gerbera Daisy Cupcakes

I love making Gerbera Daisies!  I remember the first time I made them in class.  I thought it almost looked too cartoonish to be taken seriously as a floral decoration.  Turns out it wasn’t the flower or the technique.  It was my complete inexperience at making this flower.  Now it is one of my favorites.  So much so that Chapter #3 was originally supposed to be another project.  I couldn’t wait for this one and skipped ahead.
© You Want Me to Cook?
Gerbera Daisy Cupcakes

Spice Cupcakes

Want to get a copy of the recipe that is commentary free?  Go here.

I have an issue.  With all the baking and cake decorating going on in my kitchen, I’m running out of cupcake and cake recipes to try.  I have 3 new cupcake and cake books and there are a ton of recipes, but most all of them require a specific frosting or glaze to finish them off.  I need to use decorating frosting, so it doesn’t help me at all.

This recipe from Taste of Home wasn’t any different, but I thought I could make the frosting work in my favor.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Spice Cupcakes
I had some issues with the frosting, but I still got them nicely frosted.  I left the walnuts off the top because was going to place flowers on top.  You’ll notice the tunneling.  I did a little research and baking911 said it could be from the oven temperature being too high, under-mixing or extreme over-mixing or too much leavening.  Honestly, I have no idea which one it is, although I’m pretty sure my oven temperature isn’t the problem.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sage and Prosciutto Saltimbocca with Rosemary Roasted Potatoes and Asparagus

Want to get a copy of the recipe that is commentary free?  Go here.

Every once in a while, I’ll be flipping through my food magazines and think “this is going to taste good!”  These recipes from Taste of Home practically screamed that when I turned to the page.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Sage & Prosciutto Saltimbocca with
Rosemary Roasted Potatoes & Asparagus
I love a good sautéed chicken and there’s nothing better than a butter sauce with a wine reduction.  I also love prosciutto and when it is sautéed to a crisp, it is even better.  I’m drooling just thinking about it.  The potatoes and asparagus with rosemary and garlic are a bonus.  I don’t think there are two vegetables I like more than that.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Coconut Rice Custard

For a commentary-free version of this recipe, go here.

Lately, I’ve had a major sweet tooth.  I’m the kind of gal that, when presented with a sweet treat and a savory treat, I’ll go with savory every time.  Now I can’t get enough sweets!

And before anyone wigs out, I’m currently under doctor’s supervision with my blood being drawn every month.  Right now, there isn’t a medical reason for my sweet cravings.

So I’ve been on the hunt for easy desserts that aren’t super-nauseating sweet.  I came upon this Coconut Rice Custard dish and figured: (a) I like coconut flavored sweets, but not coconut – go figure – and (b) I love rice pudding.  This seemed to be the best of both worlds.

Of course, I seemed to ignore the “easy” portion of my criteria.  Custard is not the easiest thing in the world to make.  It needs to be constantly monitored and involves a hot water bath.  These are things I overlooked as I got started.
© You Want Me to Cook?
Coconut Rice Custard
The whipped cream isn’t part of the custard.  My custard turned out a little dry, probably because I over cooked it slightly.  However, you can see the rice and the custard is still held together well instead of being hard like a rock.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Bacon-Egg Breakfast Bites

Want to get a copy of the recipe that is commentary free?  Go here.

I confess.  I love bite-size breakfast.  The funny thing is that I never eat on the run.  I just like bite sized food.

I’m sure there is a therapist somewhere that read that and said, “She needs help.”

I do not deny that fact.

One difficult thing about bite size breakfast foods is that they can kind of be a pain to make.  Like a GIGANTIC PAIN.  I’ve done recipes like these Bacon-Egg Breakfast Bites from Pillsbury before and sworn that I would never make anything like that ever again.  Yet as I am flipping through April’s issue of Bake Off winners, I immediately gravitated to this recipe.

© Pillsbury
As I look at this picture, I remember why.  I get to eat bacon and tater tots… for breakfast.  Of course, there is no guarantee that my breakfast bites are going to turn out the same way.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Bacon-Egg Breakfast Bites
But they did!  Well at least they were very close.  Mine don’t seem to have the same lovely golden color of the ones Pillsbury produced.

They did make me reaffirm that I don’t want to make anything like this again, though.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Wilton Portfolio – Chapter #2: Floral Finish and Rosebud Boutonnieres

© You Want Me to Cook?
You’re probably thinking I abandoned my Wilton Portfolio Project with only the first chapter.  Not so!  I just haven’t written about it, which is silly since this is a blog and it depends on my actually writing stuff after I’ve made it and decorated it.

This particular project is from the second class – Flowers and Cake Design.  The medium I’m working in is Gum Paste, Fondant and Royal Icing

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Brown Rice Hazelnut Burgers

On Mondays, I try to make only Vegan food.  It's more than "meatless mondays".  There is no dairy, eggs or any animal by-product.  This past week, I decided to make Brown Rice Hazelnut Burgers (link takes you to a condensed version of the recipe) out of my Vegan Diner cookbook by Julie Hasson.

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Brown Rice Hazelnut Burgers

Looks good, doesn't it?  And your probably wouldn't guess it wasn't meat from this picture either.  I served it with a side of lentil chips.  They were light and crispy and not dry like rice cakes.

Don't fear the healthier snacks.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Maple Carrot Cupcakes

Recipe made/modified June 6, 2012
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Original recipe from Taste of Home: Cupcake, Muffins and More and also found on their website.

It was time for me to make my second project from Wilton’s lesson manuals, this time from class number 2 - Flowers and Cake Design.  I could have made things a little easier by using a box cake mix, but I decided that I should be testing out cake recipes from scratch if I ever want to do this professionally.  I decided on one of my husband’s favorites, carrot cake, and went with this Maple Carrot Cupcake recipe.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Maple Carrot Cupcakes
Don’t these look delicious?  I didn’t sprinkle on any of the nuts since by this time I was exhausted from making, frosting and decorating the cupcakes from my lesson manual.

My other “complaint” is that my frosting didn’t look like and wasn’t as firm as their frosting was.  I come across this a lot and haven’t yet figured out what I’m doing wrong, especially since I’m following the directions closely.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Pistachio Baklava Tartlets

Recipe modified by You Want Me to Cook? – April 26, 2011
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Pistachio Baklava Tartlets recipe originally published by Food Network – April 2012.

I love baklava, but do not have the patience to make it.  I keep thinking about the sticky mess the honey/sugar syrup is going to leave in my kitchen.  I’d rather spend the time looking for a baker that makes a good one than scrubbing my kitchen.

Yet when I saw this recipe, I was excited to try it!  It isn’t baklava, but it’s got all the same flavors and gets it close enough.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Pistachio Baklava Tartlets
I may have overcooked my tartlets a little but they still look pretty good.  As good as Food Networks…

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What I'm Making/Made this Week - June 25 through July 1, 2012

I have been cooking.  It's just that I'm doing it a little at a time.  One thing for sure is that our mourning process for one of our pug clean-up crew requires a lot of comfort food and sweets.

Here's what I've made so far:

Monday is Vegan Day and I found another recipe out of Vegan Diner by Julie Hasson that I wanted to make.  Then I added it to one of my favorites from the book that I already made.  I present to you Home-Style Loaf with Garlic Mashers...

© You Want Me to Cook?
Home-Style Loaf with Garlic Mashers

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Be Back Soon... I Promise!

I've had a rough week.

First, I was working a town fair (having a blast by the way) with the salon I do freelance make-up.  Check out the pictures I posed on my sister blog, Day Spa Central, Facebook page.

Then my beloved pug (part of the pug clean-up crew) passed away suddenly on Friday.  

Needless to say, I have been pretty worthless for several days now.

I am getting back on schedule and did make some amazing vegan food yesterday, so hopefully I'll get those pictures up soon, as well as my menu for the rest of the week.

Thanks for being patient and until I post again... happy cooking!!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sample: Quaker Honey Nut Oatmeal Squares

I love samples.  I really love samples.  I am a sample junkie.

There, I’ve said it and I feel much better.

I get a lot of links to free hair and skin care samples, but occasionally there will be one for food.  Like this one I got from Quaker.  It was a sample for their new Honey Nut Oatmeal Squares.  I happily gave my shipping information and waited patiently for it to arrive.

Now, I’ll admit I’m kind of a pessimist.  I didn’t expect anything more than a few squares.  Just enough to give me a taste leaving me wanting more and sending me to the grocery store in search of a full box.  Imagine my surprise – and try my best to admit when I’m wrong – when this box arrived in the mail.

Box from Quaker
Bowl, Spoon & Milk from my kitchen

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Advanced Gum Paste Flowers – Class #4: Final Project

I finished this class several weeks ago and just realized that I never wrote this post!  It’s a shame too because all of my flowers pulled together nicely.  The last class is always final project day and I decided to pull together all the flowers I made (including some more I made during the last week) into bouquets.

We still had a couple of things to learn.  Here is lesson plan for this course.  The red, bold text is what we covered in the final class:
  • Blossoms
  • Gerber Daisies
  • Sweet Peas
  • Ivy Leaves
  • Lily Leaves
  • Briar Rose
  • Stargazer Lily
  • Stephanotis
  • Assemble Blossoms, Leaves and Bouquets
  • Using Flower Spikes
I was excited to get my Stargazer Lily put together.  It is one of the most grown flowers today and if I ever want to take myself seriously decorating cakes, I’m going to need to be able to make this one.

What I Made: June 18, 2012

You know what today is?  It's VEGAN DAY!  All dishes came from "Vegan Diner" by Julie Hasson.  I'm about at the end of what I want to make in this book, so if anyone has any suggestions for a vegan cookbook, please let me know.  I want recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Back to the cooking...

I was supposed to make breakfast, but didn't get up early enough to do so.  Not feeling quite myself this week.  No matter, this dish is called Blueberry Loaf Cake and worked well for a late afternoon snack and dessert.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Blueberry Loaf Cake

Monday, June 18, 2012

What I Made: June 16 & 17, 2012

Ah, the weekend.  I often try to take it a little easy on the weekends since I cook a lot during the week.  For some reason this weekend, I was incredibly motivated to cook and bake.

Okay, well I wasn't motivated ALL weekend.  Saturday morning was spent running errands and I wasn't in the mood to make lunch, so we picked something up.  I kicked it into high gear for dinner.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Portobello Mushroom Burgers

I got the recipe for Portobello Mushroom Burgers from All You.  Initially, I was looking for a Mushroom-Quinoa Burger I found in January's issue, but for some reason it was nowhere to be found on their website.  Since I recycle my magazines as soon as I've read them, the recipe has been lost (to me at least) forever.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

What I Made: June 15, 2012

Friday was one of those days that as I was running errands, I wanted to stop at every fast food place I could find.  I'm trying to recollect every place I squealed at when I passed, but here's a tentative list:
  • Columbia Gyros
  • Potbelly's
  • Starbucks (which I did stop at and get a iced latte)
  • Cold Stone Creamery
  • Culvers
  • Five Guys
  • La Caretta (Mexican deliciousness)
  • Subway
  • Potbelly's
  • Arby's
  • The Bread Basket (some of the best homemade bread in the area)
Somehow, I managed to get home without over-indulging in anything other than a soy latte (with whip), but then my lunch seemed lacking.  I had planned a salad from the April 2012 issue of Food Network.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Warm Butter Lettuce Salad with Hazelnuts

Friday, June 15, 2012

What I Made: June 14, 2012

Yesterday was another busy day that started off right... with breakfast!

© You Want Me to Cook?
Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

These Strawberry-Banana Smoothies from Food Network's April 2011 issue were fantastic.  The creamy Greek vanilla yogurt was healthy for us and tasted great!  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What I Made: June 13, 2012

Yesterday I decided to take it a little easy on the cooking/baking and make a nice dinner with a drink.  For as little as I made, I sure did make one heck-of-a mess in my kitchen.

I've heard much bally-hoo about kale.  Everyone has wanted me to try it, cook with it, make it into chips... blah blah blah.  So this evening I decided to make a Pasta with a Kale and Walnut Pesto.  I got the recipe from Real Simple's May 2012 issue. I partnered it with another recipe from that same issue of Real Simple - Spring Lettuces with Avocado Dressing and Pistachios.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Pasta with Kale & Walnut Pesto and
Spring Lettuces with Avocado Dressing & Pistachios

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What I Made: June 12, 2012

I'm getting ready to make tonight's dinner and I can't stop thinking about what I made for dinner yesterday.  I'm worried I'm going to be disappointed.  Of course, I'm getting ahead of myself here... we're talking about yesterday's meals, not about my fears for tonight's dinner.

Did that make any sense?  Yeah, it didn't on this end either.  I honestly don't know what day I'm supposed to be writing about.  I think I'm getting punchy.

Okay, let's talk about June 12th's yummies, starting with breakfast...

© You Want Me to Cook?
Chai Banana Bread

This is a Chai Banana Bread I got from Cooking Light's May 2012 issue.  It was moist, very "banana-y" and unlike the muffins I made the other day, had a great hint of chai.  I have half a loaf in the fridge and I'm really thinking about munching on a piece while I write this.

Side note: I got interrupted while writing this and when I came back, my last sentence read "...while I eat this."  I guess I really DO have that bread on my brain.

What I Made: June 11, 2012

After recuperating over the weekend, I got right back on track with my Meatless Monday.  Not just Meatless, but Vegan too.  I'm still making my way through Vegan Diner by Julie Hasson.

I do have a complaint about the book... not enough pictures.  I know that sounds silly, but when you're making your own protein/meat, it would be really helpful to know what the end result is supposed to look like.

Good recipes though.  Anyway...

I've already tried my hand at making meatless-meat and it tasted really good.  Today, I was going to make some homemade Rough Rider Barbecue Sauce and make Barbecue Ribz.

How did they turn out?

© You Want Me to Cook?
Barbecue Ribz with Rough Rider Barbecue Sauce

They look good, right?  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What I Made: June 8, 2012

I was a cooking fool on Friday.  

I'd like to stress the "fool" part.

I slightly overdid it and then was out of commission for the weekend.  The good news is that I was back to cooking on Monday and I have a lot of delicious pictures for your consideration.

For breakfast, I went with Pistachio-Chai Muffins from Cooking Light.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Pistachio-Chai Muffins

I have to admit, I'm more of a sweet breakfast muffin kind of gal, but my opinion isn't the only one that counts.  My husband took well over half a batch to work.  He returned with empty containers and said they got a big thumbs up.

Monday, June 11, 2012

What I'm making this week: June 11 through June 17

Well I did "okay" keeping up with posting my meals as I was making them.  I didn't do so great in making everything I said I would, but I've got an excuse... I'm lazy.

Not the excuse you were expecting?  Just keeping it real.

I've got the pictures from Friday that will be going up soon, but I wanted to share what I'll be making this week.

  • Monday - all recipes from Vegan Diner
    • Barbecued Ribz with Rough Rider Barbecue Sauce and salad with a baked potato
    • Old-Fashioned Rice Pudding
    • And I'm finally going to get around to decorating my cupcakes
  • Tuesday
    • Breakfast: Chai Banana Bread (Cooking Light)
    • Dinner: Pork Tenderloin with Mango Salsa (Cooking Light) and Spiced Peas with Cilantro and Lime (Real Simple)
    • After-Dinner Drink: Watermelon Killer Chiller (Every Day with Rachael Ray)
    • Dessert: Banana Cream Pie-in-a-Bowl (Betty Crocker)
  • Wednesday
    • Dinner: Pasta with Kale and Walnut Pesto (Real Simple) with Spring Lettuces and Avocado Dressing with Pistachios (Real Simple)
    • Drink: Homemade Ginger Ale (All You)
  • Thursday
    • Breakfast: Strawberry Banana Smoothies (Food Network)
    • Lunch: Garlic Ham and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (Food Network)
    • Dinner: Mustard Turkey Cutlets and Orzo with Peppers and Spinach (Simple and Delicious)
    • Dessert: Gerbera Daisy Cupcakes (Wilton Design)
  • Friday
    • Lunch: Warm Butter Lettuce Salad with Hazelnuts (Food Network)
    • Appetizer: Marmalade-Glazed Asian Meatball Cups (Pillsbury)
    • Dinner: Soy Shrimp with Rice Noodles (Healthy Cooking)
    • Dessert: Browned Butter Bananas with Toasted Pecans (myRecipes)
  • Saturday
    • Breakfast: Panko-Topped Curried Eggs Breakfast Pizza (Pillsbury)
    • Appetizer: Quick Pizza Rolls (Simple and Delicious)
    • Dinner: Portobello Mushroom Burgers (All You) with Scalloped Potatoes with Tomatoes and Bell Peppers (Food Network)
    • Dessert: Chocolate-Hazelnut-Coconut Bars (Pillsbury)
  • Sunday
    • Breakfast: Oatmeal Raisin Pancakes (Every Day with Rachael Ray)
    • Dinner: Creamy Tomato-Stuffed Chicken  
    • Dessert: Lemon Cheesecake Bars (myRecipes)
Wish me luck and I'll be checking in with you later to give you my progress.  Until then... happy cooking!

Friday, June 8, 2012

What I Made: June 7, 2012

I had a lot of things planned for June 7.  Then my body decided to not agree with me and I had a pain flare.  While my dogs enjoyed me sitting around and napping, I didn't get a lot of cooking/baking done.

That doesn't mean I didn't make ANYTHING.  It just stopped once I couldn't take it anymore.

My morning started off with a smoothie from my archives.  Good Housekeeping had this Jump-Start Smoothie in their September 2011 issue.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Jump-Start Smoothies

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What I made: June 6, 2012

Today I was like a crazy cooking ninja.  And there was some alcohol involved.  

That may explain why my notes are a little difficult to read today.  Oh well, let's get to the food.

I had a crazy morning and afternoon so my breakfast and lunch dishes had to be rescheduled.  It was time to start dinner, but I was parched so I made myself a Pink Lemonade found in All You's July issue.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Pink Lemonade

What I Made: June 5

So 2 days in and I already fall behind.  Figures.

It doesn't mean I haven't eaten in two days.  Nope, I've been busily cooking, taking pictures, coating my pug in Fondant...  you know, the basics.  What?  You've never spilled melted marshmallow on your dog before?

For the record, I'd highly advise against it.

So this day, I made myself a little lunch.  I made Bacon Fried Rice from a recipe I got from

© You Want Me to Cook?
Bacon Fried Rice

If you don't read my blog regularly, let me let you in on a not-a-secret: I LOVE BACON!  I overcooked it a wee-bit this time, but it still was delicious.