Flashback Friday – Random Acts

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 11/2/07 at Exit 51.

Random Acts

With SFC being away and my network of friends being spread hither and yon across the country, sometimes it’s all too easy to isolate myself and not reach out. And it’s way too easy to lose sight of the fact that even though I may not see some of these folks as often as I would like, they do care. I say this because yesterday I was the recipient of a random act of kindness. Continue reading “Flashback Friday – Random Acts”

Hot Stuff

image from http://www.istockphoto.com

Is it weird to talk about hot cocoa in April?  Is hot chocolatey goodness governed by the seasons, only be to enjoyed in the cold days of winter?  What about a wet spring morning?  Or a late summer night under a starry sky?  Or a crisp fall afternoon?  Do marshmallows melting into a pool of rich cocoa tell the difference between daylight savings time and standard time?  I say it’s time to stop the discrimination; time to stop treating hot cocoa as a seasonal beverage.  With only four ingredients, most of which you may already have, you can enjoy a cup of hot cocoa anytime you like.  And if you really can’t bring yourself to even think about drinking a hot beverage in the dog days of summer, put a few ice cubes in a blender and whip yourself up an icy cocoa treat.

Hot Cocoa

Alton Brown

BAH Note:  The mix can be stored indefinitely in an airtight container according to Mr. Brown.  I found that the mix doesn’t dissolve completely in hot liquid.  So I tried sifting it through a fine mesh strainer with only marginally better results.  However, when I took my tiny pestle to the mix in a plastic container and gave it a good mashing, I was quite happy with my cup of hot chocolate.  I also prefer to add a bit of half and half, but that’s just me.

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa, preferably Dutch processed
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered milk
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, cinnamon, or five spice powder

Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium bowl.  Fill a mug half full with the cocoa mixture.  Add heated water and stir to combine.

{printable recipe}

As Seen On…

Barefoot Chicken

I watch a lot of tv.  I blame it on The Mistah.  He’s the one who thought it was a good idea to bring Tivo into our relationship.  In the six years since we got Tivo, I’m convinced that my reading comprehension skills have dwindled because I spend my free time watching whatever shows I’m into at the moment.  Lost, Gilmore Girls, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, Absolutely Fabulous, you’ve all contributed to my downfall.

However, because of Tivo, I can free myself from the chains of the Mad Men’s advertisements.  No longer must I sit through 30 second infomercials proclaiming the virtues of Crazy Glue (strong enough to hold a man suspended in mid air!) or Nu Finish (the once a year car polish!).   My brain will not be washed into handing over $9.99 for a blanket with sleeves.  Maybe Tivo isn’t the devil I make it out to be after all.

My cooking often reflects the intersection of the cooking shows I watch and the blogs I follow.   That’s how Ina’s Indonesian Ginger Chicken came to be sitting on my dinner plate.  I’ve got a Season Pass for Barefoot Contessa, so Ina and I hang out regularly.  And then The Kitchen Witch blogged about Ina’s chicken. While it may not do anything to improve my reading comprehension, this recipe will free up about an hour of time that I can use to plow through my list of shows Now Playing on Tivo.

Ina’s Indonesian Ginger Chicken

Adapted from Ina Garten

BAH Note:  Ina’s original recipe calls for two chickens.  When I made this, I had neither the freezer space nor the appetite for 7 pounds of chicken.  So I cut that in half.  If you’ve got a crowd to feed, or space in the deep freeze, go ahead and make a big batch.

  • 1 chicken, approximately 3 1/2pounds, quartered (or 3 1/2 pounds of chicken parts)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
  • Dash of sriracha hot sauce (optional)

Combine the honey, 1/4 cup soy sauce, and grated ginger in a small sauce pan.  Heat over low to melt the honey and stir well.  Taste for seasoning and add 1 to 2 tablespoons more soy sauce if desired.  If using sriracha, add a few drops and taste.  Add more if desired.

Place the chicken skin side down in a baking pan and cover with the sauce.  Cover the pan with aluminum foil and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Approximately 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook, pull the pan out of the refrigerator and let the pan sit at room temperature.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the covered pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Then carefully remove the foil, turn the chicken skin side up, and raise the temperature to 375 degrees.  Bake  for another 30 to 45 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked and the sauce turns a deep, dark brown.

{printable recipe}

You’ve Been Warned

Turkey Noodle Soup

On those days when I don’t have it together enough to make homemade chicken noodle soup, Bon Appetit – Fast, Easy, Fresh has me covered.  Assuming that I put chicken broth, turkey breast, and rice noodles on my shopping list, I can have soup in under 30 minutes.  Don’t believe me?  Try it yourself and see.  But don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Once you realize how easy this is to make, you just might find yourself regularly putting the ingredients on your grocery list.  Because who doesn’t love a super quick meal that tastes like it took all day to make?  Better yet, make a double batch and freeze half for later.  In cramped freezers like mine, portion it out into quart sized freezer bags for easy freezing and thawing.  They store much better than plastic containers.

Asian Turkey Noodle Soup

Adapted from Bon Appetit – Fast, Easy, Fresh

BAH Note:  I take the easy way out with the turkey breast and get it at the deli counter.  The person helping me usually gets a puzzled look when I ask to have a slice of turkey breast that’s about an inch to an inch and a half thick.  But it works perfectly.  You could roast a turkey breast at home or maybe even find one prepared in the rotisserie section of the grocery store.  But don’t be afraid to ask for it at the deli counter.

  • 3 1/2 ounces medium wide rice noodles, broken in half
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thinly into about 8 rounds
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 cups diced turkey breast (about 8 to 10 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon dried chives
  • 1 tablespoon crystallized ginger (not sugar coated), minced

Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions.  Rinse, run under cold water to cool, and set aside.

Combine broth, shallots, fresh ginger, and fish sauce in a large sauce pan or dutch oven.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove ginger slices from the broth, add diced turkey, noodles, dried chives, and crystallized ginger and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add a pinch of kosher salt, or additional fish sauce,  if desired.

Enjoy plain or top with bean sprouts, a squirt of lime, or thinly sliced chiles for more heat.

{printable recipe}

Food Memories – Jan’s Cheesecake


My father got remarried when I was about 12.  When he introduced my brother and I to his girlfriend, we called her Miss Jan.  Then, after they got married, I just called her Jan.  I think it was the first time that I called an adult by their first name.  Everyone was always Mister or Miss.  To this day, I still fall into that habit.

When I sent out the request for Food Memories, Jan said:

It has to be a cheesecake from me.  I have baked them for years for anyone’s birthday where I worked.  At Stryker, Michael & Bill fought over them.  They didn’t want to share them with anyone. Michael didn’t.  Even jerky Scott loved them.  At Tri-County Gas, Gary drooled over them.  At Garrison Forest School, they fought over them.

I often say that you don’t need a special occasion to make special recipes.  But sometimes, you really do.  Like Jan’s Cheesecake.  Because if you’re going to bust out the cream cheese, eggs, and sour cream, you better have a bunch of people helping you to polish off the results.

Like Jan said, I love them………but my hips don’t!

Jan’s Cheesecake

BAH Note: When you  add the melted butter to the graham cracker crumbs and sugar, it will seem dry, like it won’t hold together.  I promise you it will.  If you don’t believe me, I’ll give you Jan’s phone number and you can call her like I did just to make sure.  You’ll want to use your fingers to really combine the butter with the crumbs.  Sometimes it’s nice to get your hands dirty.

Also, when you press the crust into your pan, use whatever method you are most comfortable with.  Some people use the bottom of a glass.  I used the bottom of a 9 inch cake pan.  So what if the bottom of my crust was stamped with Calphalon?  It was a perfect fit and gave me a nice, even crust.

Finally, Jan mentioned not to overmix the batter or else the cake is more likely to crack.  I think I should have mixed the cream cheese and sugar a little better before I added the eggs because there were a number of cream cheese lumps in my final batter.  The top still cracked on me anyway so what’s the difference?


  • 1 cup of Graham crackers crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter- melted


  • 3- 8 ounce packages of Cream Cheese
  • ¾ cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3 eggs


  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Combine crust ingredients in a medium bowl until moist and press into the bottom of a 9” spring form pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes.  Reduce your oven temperature to 300 degrees.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine your softened cream cheese, sugar, juice and zest, mixing until well blended.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Pour mixture over crust.  Bake at 300 degrees for 55 minutes.

Combine sour cream, sugar and vanilla.  Carefully spread over cheesecake.  Continue baking for 10 minutes.  Take a knife and go around the edge of the cake.  Then let it cool before removing the rim of the pan.

Refrigerate overnight and it is ready to serve!

{Printable Recipe}

Flashback Friday – Easy As Pie?

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 10/29/07 at Exit 51

Easy As Pie?

Making pies intimidates me. Rather, I should say making pie dough intimidates me. Seems like it should be the easiest thing to do. Take some butter and some flour and some water and end up with flaky goodness cradling a luscious filling. Not for me. I must not have been given the magic words one must recite during this ritual because the pastry arts and I are not on the same page. Continue reading “Flashback Friday – Easy As Pie?”

Tyler’s Bolognese

Bolognese and Parm

Have you ever printed out a recipe to try because it looked so good when you saw it made on tv?  And have you ever let so much time lapse between when you saw it on tv and when you made it that you don’t remember what it was supposed to look like?  I do.  That’s the problem with printing recipes out and putting them in folders and then forgetting about them.  I forget everything about them.  I forget what the chef said about texture and thickness, how he described the final dish, and I’m kind of flying blind. I’ll be honest with you, I get mixed results when I’m flying blind.  Sometimes I stick the landing.  Other times I fall flat on my face.  And sometimes, in my best interpretation of Kerri Strug’s 1996 Olympic vault, I get both feet under me just long enough to complete the exercise and then hobble off the competition floor with the assistance of a burly Romanian coach.

So with my apologies to Tyler Florence, this probably isn’t exactly what you’d get if he made you his Bolognese Sauce.  Because I know he totally sticks that landing and I’m only just starting to work on mine.

Bolognese Sauce

Adapted from Tyler Florence

BAH Note:  I’d never actually had Bolognese sauce before I made this recipe so I don’t know how thick or thin the sauce was supposed to be.  I wish I would have cooked it longer so that the liquid had reduced even more because even after 90 minutes of simmering, it was a bit soupy.  Also, I’d start off with 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon first and see how you like it.  You can always add more to get a more pronounced flavor, but you can’t take it out once it’s in there.

  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, roughly chopped
  • 2 large or 4 small carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 pounds ground beef, pork, and veal mix
  • 1 28 ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed (by hand)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • salt and pepper

Puree the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic in a food processor until smooth.  Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add vegetables and cook for five minutes.  Add the ground beef mixture to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the meat is brown.  Once the meat browns, add the crushed tomatoes, tomato juice, milk, broth, and cinnamon to the pot.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 90 minutes until the sauce reduces and the meat is quite tender.  Stir in the butter and season to taste with additional salt and pepper.

Serve over your favorite pasta garnished with grated Parmesan.

{printable recipe}

The Ungourmet’s Mini Apple Pies

Individual Apple Pie

I was seriously excited to try the Ungourmet’s mini apple pies.  To the extent that I made sure I put dumpling wrappers on my grocery list right away and clipped the recipe up in my kitchen workspace so that it was constantly in my face.  Heck, I wanted to make them so badly that I even decided to throw caution to the wind and serve them, untested, to my father in law.  Continue reading “The Ungourmet’s Mini Apple Pies”

Orangette’s Oatmeal Pancakes

Oatmeal Pancakes

Can you have too much of a good thing?  Without moderation, I’m afraid the answer is yes.  That’s why pancakes, bacon, waffles, and all sorts of breakfast treats aren’t served up each and every day here at BAH.  But the thing about moderation is that you do occasionally get to indulge.  Egg beaters, steel cut oatmeal, and fruit smoothies only get you so far.  And when we reach that point, where we can’t look at breakfast without going “blah”, it’s time to make a detour.

Our most recent breakfast detour involved Orangette’s Oatmeal Pancakes.  Yes, we do already have an oatmeal pancake recipe floating around the place, but that is a South Beach recipe that is heavy on the egg whites and cottage cheese – which I don’t always have enough of to sacrifice to the South Beach Diet gods.  And if I squint my eyes really tight and pretend that I don’t see that there’s an entire stick of butter in this recipe, this one isn’t too diet wrecking every now and then.  Darn that stick of butter.  If it weren’t for it, I could have served up some lovely oven browned bacon to go with the pancakes.  But my sense of moderation told me to go with some Canadian Bacon instead.

Orangette’s Oatmeal Pancakes

Molly says these are adapted from the Inn at Fordhook Farm

BAH Note:  The oats need to soak overnight in the buttermilk. So these pancakes are a planned indulgence.

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 stick butter, melted

Stir together the oats and buttermilk in a medium bowl until well mixed.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.

Remove the oat and buttermilk mixture from the refrigerator.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Add the melted butter and beaten eggs to the oat and buttermilk mixture.  Stir well to combine.  Add in the flour mixture and stir just until blended into a thick batter.

Heat a large nonstick frying pan over medium high heat.  Lightly grease the pan with vegetable oil and wipe out the excess.  When the pan is ready, ladle in 1/4 cup portions of the batter.  Cook the pancakes until the bottoms are nicely browned, the tops have bubbled, and the edges have set before flipping.  Cook the second side until browned.

{printable recipe}