Friday, June 13, 2014


Such an odd word for such a strangely tasty item. 
What is Tzatziki you ask? A traditional Greek cucumber yogurt sauce. Sounds weird, tastes delicious. 

2 cups of Greek Yogurt (I used Fage)
1 cup of cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1-2 TBS of lemon juice
2 TBS of chopped italian parsley
1 small clove of garlic, minced
+1/4 tsp of salt

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until well mixed. It will not be smooth, but will still be slightly chunky. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Refrigerate and serve. For optimal results, serve within three days. 

What can this be served with you ask? Well just for a few ideas-it can be used as a salad dressing, as a dip for veggies or as a cool sauce for a chicken wrap, but really the possibilities are endless! 


Hummus is one of those foods I have always found scary. The color looks bland and I'm not a big dip person anyways so I always find myself apprehensive to try it. Once as I made this hummus all my fear were rushed away. How could anyone be scared of something so simple easy and delicious?

1-15 oz can of chickpeas (Garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
3-4 TBS of fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup of tahini
1 small clove of garlic, minced (I used a microplane to grate it)
1/2 tsp of ground cumin
1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper
2-3 TBS of water
+1/2 tsp of salt

Place all of the ingredients in your food processor and blend until smooth. Add water as needed to get hummus to desired texture. Let the machine go for at least a few minutes so it can get nice and creamy. Taste and adjust as needed. Depending on how salty and flavorful the item you are serving with the hummus is you may need to add a bit more salt or lemon etc to get the right taste.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Breakfast Strawberry Coffee Cake

Don't you hate it when your berries mold over before you get the chance to eat them? I ended up with a large quantity of strawberries that needed to be used, and I needed something to feed the fam-bam who all came in town for my graduation. Strawberry coffee cake came out as the winner for what to make.

*Note: I used melted coconut oil instead of vegetable oil. It provided for a beautiful combination with the cinnamon, nutmeg and strawberries. The spices added warmth, the strawberries freshness and the coconut oil richness but in a subtle exotic way. If you haven't cooked with coconut oil, I highly suggest it. Your local grocery store probably has it, but don't by it at your regular supermarket. Most likely it will be cheaper at a place like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's

3 cups of Flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
4 eggs
4 cups of strawberries, roughly chopped 

In a medium bowl mix together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking powder. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the oil, eggs and sugar until well mixed. Add the flour and stir. Add the strawberries and stir into the batter. The batter will be very thick. Pour into two greased loaf pans, or in this case I used a bundt pan. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes-1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, May 26, 2014


(I used 5 oz Dixie cups and filled them up a little less than half way. This made around 35 fudgesicles.)

4 ounce semisweet chocolate
1 2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup +1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 1/4 cups whole milk
Heavy pinch of salt
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
       In a large saucepan over very low heat, gently melt the chocolate. Stirring until smooth. Pour in sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, milk and salt, stir and raise heat to medium. A whisk may be needed to fully incorporate the sugar, chocolate and cocoa into the milk. Cook mixture, stirring frequently until it thickens, coating the back of a spoon*, anywhere between 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat, add vanilla and butter and stir until combined.
      Set aside to cool. slightly then pour into popsicle molds. (I used 5 oz Dixie Cups. The waxy interior provides for easy removal. Just cut or rip away the cup from the popsicle) The colder the mixture is when it goes into the freezer the quicker it will freeze. The shorter the freezer time, the smaller the ice crystals will be, which means it will have a more smooth creamy texture.
      I filled the Dixie cups up about half way. Freeze for 30 minutes, or until slightly set, and then insert popsicle sticks. Freeze the rest of the way before serving. They do melt fairly quickly, so once as they are removed from the freezer, be ready to enjoy!

*Note: What does "Coating the back of a spoon" really mean? It's a way to test the thickness of a sauce. If it is thick enough to "coat the back of the spoon" when a spoon is dipped in the sauce and a streak is wiped away, the rest of the sauce will hold to the spoon. See picture below.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Braised Zucchini Bundles

-2 Zucchinis
-1 Roma Tomato, seeds and juiced removed
-2 tbs of Onion  
-1 Garlic clove 
-1 tbs of EVOO
-2 oz of Chicken Stock

This was inspired by one of the components of the meal that our culinary team competed with at regionals and state for FCCLA. I'm not even a fav on zucchini, but this recipe won me over.

After washing the zucchinis and trimming the ends, with a vegetable peeler peel the zucchini into long thin strips (See picture). Once as you get to the middle of the zucchini that is filled with seeds, flip the zucchini over and make long slices from the other side. Once you get down to the very middle, save for a later use. (I diced the left over part, roasted in at 400 with EVOO, salt and pepper and roast until slightly golden and soft. This is great served along in a rice pilaf or quinoa and other veggies for lunch.)
After both zucchinis have been cut into the thing slices, lay 4-5 pieces on top of each other, overlapping, but not completely (See picture). Lightly salt and pepper the slices before rolling the slices up into a bundle. Lay aside, seam side down. Repeat with the rest of the bundles. In a medium skilled heat the oil. Add the minced garlic, onion and chopped tomato to the pan. Sauté until soft. Push to the side of the pan and then add the zucchini bundles to the pan. After all of the bundles are in add the chicken stock. Cover the pan with a lid, and cook until zucchini is tender. Taste for need of additional salt pepper and serve.

*This is a great dish served along side roasted chicken, a rice or quinoa pilaf of meatloaf. The possibilities are endless!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Humming Bird Cake

Buzz Buzz. Its a warm day with pastel 
colored flowers dispersed among the field, with butterflies, bees and hummingbirds flying from flower to flower. It's Spring. Can you see it? Well actually currently it isn't spring. It actually just the start of winter, but this cake (err well in this specific case, cupcakes) will make you feel like you are in spring. It has a warm and heart array of spices but also summery sweetness from the tangy pineapple and sweet bananas. Plus delicious pecans are added to this mix? What more could you ask for? Maybe cream cheese frosting to top it all off? I can make that happen.
Some may not be a fan of 'littering' the moist and light texture of the cake with the pecans. But for me, with a pecan farmer uncle, there always seems to be an abundance of pecans sitting around just waiting to be used in a new way. Plus the parentals are big fans of nuts in the cake, so the nuts stay. If you don't like nuts in desserts, maybe try it with the pecans topped on the frosting. They really do add a lot to the cake, but if you are totally anti-nuts, the cake can be made with out them.

Humming Bird Cupcakes
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour,
  • 1 cup pecan pieces finely chopped 
  • 3 ripe bananas, chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil

  • For the Frosting:
  • 16 oz of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 12 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange 
  • zest
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg


Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the muffin tins or line with with  paper cup liners.
Toss pecans with the bananas, pineapple and 1/2 cup flour in a small bowl.In a separate bowl mix the remaining 2 1/4 cups flour, the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In a stand mixer or with a hand held mixer, beat the eggs and granulated sugar in a separate  bowl on high speed until thick and light, 3 minutes. Once pale in color, slowly add  in the vegetable oil.Combine the flour mixture with the egg mixture to make a thick batter. Fold in the pecan-fruit mixture, then transfer the batter to the prepared pans. Fill the cups 3/4 full. Bake until the cakes are firm and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Make sure they are completely cool before topping with frosting.

For the frosting: Beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer until fluffy. It is extremely important that the cream cheese and butter are at room temperature. (Do not try to do it with cold cheese and butter.)  Add the powdered sugar, zest and spices to the cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Comfort Food Face Lift Part I: Mac and Cheese

If your childhood was not filled with an outrageous number of meals consisting solely of macaroni and cheese, you were doing it wrong. Being the extremely picky child that I was, macaroni and cheese was one of the only dishes that I would eat willing. Unfortunately, man can not live on mac alone.  But even now, I sometimes get a craving for ooey goey mac and cheese. Sometimes I will go full out and make a fatty bechamel and load it up with cheese, but when I am looking for a way to revisit a child hood favorite in an uplifted fashion without feeling heavy this is my go to recipe.

  • This is not American styled Macaroni and cheese. It does not taste anything like Kraft or Velveeta or gooey cheddar cheese laden noodles your grandma makes, but it's not suppose to be. This is not suppose to taste exactly like mac and cheese. This is a substitute for it. This is not a direct substitute for mac and cheese, so sorry no fooling your kids on this one; But it is a good option when you want cheese and pasta but don't want to completely undo your workout.
  • Other roasted vegetables can also be added to the pasta. Feel free to mix it up. One of my favorites is roasted eggplant.

Cheesy Pasta

For Sauce
  •  1 head of cauliflower (1/2 for sauce, 1/2 for roasting)
  • 1 1/2- 2 1/2 cups of milk or combination milk & stock (any milk of your choosing, cows, almond etc)
  • 1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of minced onion 
  • 1 1/2 tsp of butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp of flour
  • 1 tsp of Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp of dried basil
  • 6 oz of shredded cheese (Mozzarella,  Swiss, cheddar, or Parmesan)
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
For roasted vegetables and other components
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 8 oz of Button Mushrooms
  • 1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp of dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Several Tbs of Oil for sauteing (olive or coconut oil or butter)
  • 1 package of Whole Wheat pasta (I used Ziti Rigate but any short cut pasta will do) 
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

Preheat oven to 400℉
Cut the cauliflower florets into bit size pieces, reserving half the head for the sauce and the other half to be roasted.
Place half the head in a medium sauce pan and add just enough milk/stock to cover the cauliflower
Cauliflower cooking in milk mixture
florets. Add 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper each, garlic and onion. Stir. Cover with a lid and let simmer for approx 30 minutes over medium heat or until the cauliflower is extremely tender.
Place the rest of the Cauliflower on a baking sheet. Toss with 1 Tbs of oil, 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper and 2 cloves of mashed garlic. Roast at 400℉ for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower begins to turn golden brown on the edges.
 Wash the tomatoes and then cut in half. Place in a small baking dish. Toss with 2 tsp of oil, 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar and 1/2 tsp each of salt, pepper and dried basil. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the tomatoes become soft and begin to caramelize.

Don't be worried if the pan looks crowded,
Mushrooms have a lot of liquid in them,
and they will shrink.
Thinly slice the mushrooms. Add to a pan with 2 tsp of oil (olive or coconut or butter) and add 1/2 tsp - 1 tsp of salt. Saute for 12-15 minutes over medium/medium high heat until the mushrooms give up their liquid and begin to crisp.

Bring a large pit of water for the pasta to a boil. 
Once as the cauliflower in the milk mixture has softened, it is time for blending. Using an immersion blender, food processor of blender, blend until smooth. Set aside.
Boil the pasta according to package directions.
Melt 1 1/2 tsp of butter in medium sauce pan (use the same one you cooked the cauliflower in). Once melted add 1 1/2 tsp of flour.  Cook for 1 minute to remove the raw flour flavor. Next, add in the blended cauliflower mixture. Depending on how much liquid you used to cook the cauliflower, you make need to add more stock or milk. Now add in the Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp of dried basil and cheese. Stir in the cheese over low heat until it is thoroughly incorporated into the sauce. Taste and season with additional salt/pepper as needed.
Now it is time to bring it all together. Once as the pasta is done boiling, the sauce is completed, the mushrooms are crisp, and the tomatoes and cauliflower and done roasting combine all of the elements together. Serve with fresh basil.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pumpkin Protein Bars

Even though swimsuit season has passed us, that's no excuse to stop getting swoll. Well, you might be taking in extra protein to get big while you go hard at the gym, but I just like to have a protein bar at lunch to fill me up and help off balance the lack of animal protein I intake in a day. Protein bars are a better option than the typical lunch style granola bar which is typically laden with preservatives, fillers, sugar, fat and low in protein and fiber. By making bars yourself, you get to control exactly what goes in them.  Plus it's a lot cheaper to make them yourself. A lot of recipes out there are peanut butter based, which this recipe does include peanut butter but I like that it is not the main substance of the bar. The pumpkin helps buffer the fat content of the peanut butter and also provides nutrients like Vitamin A. So whether you are looking to increase your amino acid intake to get ripped for the ladies, or you are just trying to stay alive, these bars are a great place to start your venture into homemade protein bars.
As always do not let this recipe box you in. Feel free to experiment and mix in other additions as your heart (or stomach) desires.

Note: While the name of this post is Pumpkin protein bars, my personal preference is to make these with sweet potatoes. Roast 1 medium sweet potato at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until the potato is soft and easily mashable. Remove skin, mash and use in replacement of pumpkin.

Protein Bars

  • 1/2-2/3 cup Canned Pumpkin (or fresh, or a smashed sweet potato; 1/2- 2/3 cup depending on how strong you want the pumpkin/potato flavor. Start with 1/2 cup. After the whole mixture is together, if the peanut butter taste is too strong, add the rest)
  • 1/2 cup of Peanut butter (or any other nut butter such as almond butter or cashew butter)
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of protein powder (whey protein; or I use Garden of Life's RAW Protein)
  • 1/4 cup of fiber powder or more protein powder (I use Garden of Life's Super Seed)
  • 1 1/2 cups of toasted rolled oats
          To toast, place oats on a cookie sheet in an oven preheated to 350℉ for approx 10 min or until lightly golden
  • 2-3 TBS of wheat germ
  • 2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice (Or 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of nutmeg, 1/2 tsp of ginger)
  • 1/2 tsp of Salt 

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix the wet ingredients together. Add the Powders, oats wheat germ, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Stir.
Place in a pan. 9x13 for thin bars and a 9x9 for thick bars. My personal recommendation is the 9x13. Although I love thick protein bars this recipe turns out better in the 9x13.
Bake for 7-10 mins for 9x13 (15-20mins for 9x9) or until set. Make sure to not over cook these. You want them to be just set but still moist and gooey. Wrap and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Missing Cookie Day

"Cookie day": a phrase synonymous with the Friday job of scooping endless trays of Ms. Rogers perfected warm goey chocolate chip cookies.
The students enrolled in the culinary skills program earn money for food and competition by selling cookies every friday. These are not just any old boxed cookies. These are Ms Rogers' cookie recipe.  If you are a student of recent alumni of Blue Springs South than j am sure you are familiar with the deal that goes down in room 517. Three cookies- one dollar. The deal is hard to beat. Unless of course you are one of the students in the Culinary Skills class and then you get three cookies for free.  After weeks and weeks of my Friday mornings centered around chocolate chip cookies, the summer has been empty with out them. I have been craving chocolate chip cookies. I do have the recipe so I could make, but knowing the recipe i know that these cookies are not healthy at all. While real butter is used vs some nasty shortening product, they are still cookies. Cookies loaded with fat, sugar and carbs. In my distress over the desire of chocolate chip cookies I stumbled across Cookie dough dip. You read that right. You now finally have a reason to eat cookie dough. Plus with the changes I have made to the recipe, this dip has protein, is relatively low in fat and in sugar.

Cookie dough dip

I can of white cannelloni beans
1/3 cup of water
3 pkgs of sugar in the raw
1/4 cup of peanut butter
1 tbs applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs honey
1/3 cup of oats (or 1/3 cup of flour)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

*Note: If using a strong and powerful blender or food processor (vita-mix, or kitchen aid food processor)  you can just put the oats into the mix with the beans, but if your blending device does not consistently produce a smooth consistency it would be best to blend the oats separately before adding them to the beans. The oats act as the replacement for flour, thickening the mix. So big pieces of oats are not what is wanted. You want it so be blended finely into a flour type consistency. *

Rinse off the canned beans and place in a pot with 1/3 cup of water. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes until extremely tender. Once the beans are done cooking, drain and place in a strong food processor or blender (like a vita-mix). Blend until smooth. Add sugar in the raw, peanut butter, applesauce, vanilla, salt, sugar, brown sugar, honey and oats. Blend until very smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Place in a container and chill. Serve with graham cracker, animal crackers or even just by the spoon full, which is my personal favorite mode of consumption.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Doughnut Days

Happy National Do(ugh)nut Day! No matter how you choose to spell doughnut/donut you most likely will agree that they are a delicious-and less than nutritious-treat. It's a bit mind boggling to think that we approve a sugar dough that has been fried and then dipped in more sugar is targeted as a breakfast item. When I realized that today, June 7, was National Donut Day, I knew it would be a great post (and also a great way to use up that last egg in the fridge). There is just one problem that doughnuts propose: They are deep fat fried. While I do not mind in the least bit pan frying a component of a meal, there is only one time of year I ever deep fat fry and that is at Thanksgiving. I give in and make homemade fried onion rings to top off my green bean casserole, because for goodness sakes it's Thanksgiving and all the rules are thrown out the window.
But donut? I don't want to go through the hassle of frying. I don't want the temptation of fried dough balls sitting on my counter all day. Fried food does not last very long anyway so I would just be encouraged to eat them all. I knew there had to be a better way, and there is.
BAKING. Hello, you've got a magical heat box right in your kitchen just waiting to be used. Yep, these doughnut are baked and you won't even miss the grease.

Bonus: This recipe can be completed in under 20 Minutes!

Baked & Glazed Chocolate Cake Doughnuts
1 cup of Flour
1/3 cup of Sugar
1/4 cup of Cocoa powder
1/4 cup of grated chocolate or mini chocolate chips (optional-I didn't use any this time around)
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of salt
6 Tbs (that 1/4 cup + 2 Tbs) of Sour Cream
1 egg
2 tsp of Vanilla
1/4 cup of milk
1/4 cup of vegetable oil (I used a mix of grapeseed and coconut oil)

Preheat oven to 375F

Making the Dough
Place all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.
Place the wet ingredients in a stand mixer (or mix by hand) until it is one homogenous mixture. Next add the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Wet Ingredients
Dry ingredients

Making the Doughnuts
Now you could go out and buy a doughnut pan, but that would be a waste of money. It's an overpriced unitasker which are not allowed in the kitchen. You might say "Well I'll use it a lot to justify my purchase." If you make doughnuts often enough to justify dropping $20 dollars on a shaped pan, than you need to hold back on how many doughnuts you are making and eating.

What I did was put the dough in a ziptop baggie, snip the corner and piped out the doughnuts into ring shapes. Place the doughnuts on a parchment paper or a nonstick sheet for easy removal.
Bake at 375F for 8 mins for medium sized doughnuts or 6 mins for small doughnuts. You will know they are done when they bounce back from light pressure.

Making the Glaze
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup of milk
2 Tbs of melted butter
1 tsp of vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Stir all of the ingredients together until smooth. It should have some body but still be very much a liquid.
After the doughnuts come out of the oven, before they are finished cooling place the doughnut "face-down" into the glaze and swirl to coat. Allow the glaze to set by placing the doughnuts on parchment paper or on a cooling rack.