Saturday, June 28, 2008

TasteSpotting- It's Back!!!!!!!

Wake up, wake up, wake up!!! All of you foodies who have had no reason to get out of bed in the morning...all you culinary addicts scrounging for a fix...all desperate food porn seekers flipping the tv remote to watch nothing but the food commercials... turn off the gas and get your heads out of your ovens. Today is a new day and life is good! Make that, LIFE IS DELICIOUS!

What a great way to wake up in the morning! To flip open the notebook and log onto my blog, and on a whim (and out of habit) click onto the link for TasteSpotting just to see what would happen. I couldn't believe my eyes!

TasteSpotting has returned! The delectable web site has found a new home and has picked up right where it left off. I can't wait to jump back in and roll around in that yummy goodness! In the past week, TasteSpotting has had something cooking. Another note on the cyber-fridge, the sound of pots and pans clanking behind the computer screen...hmm, I wondered why I smelled paprika coming from my hard drive.

The absence of Tastespotting since friday the 13th of June has been upsetting, to say the least. But if there was one savory thing to come from it, it would be the emergence of FoodGawker. Thanks to Chuck at SundayNightDinner, epicurians everywhere have had a safe haven to weather out the storm. FoodGawker has had a great start and seems to be taking off. I hope it stays around. Like digging a fork into a rich, gooey double chocolate cake (the breakfast of champions), FoodGawker and TasteSpotting together is double the fun. What could possibly be wrong with that?!

Grab a Bloody Mary to nurse those hangovers. It's time to get cooking!

Chuck said...
Thanks for the kind words regarding Food Gawker. We definitely plan on staying around!
June 28, 2008 2:03 PM

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Whoop, whoop!! The Great Whoopie Pie Experiment

I've been wanting to try making whoopie pies for a while now. Actually, I only just recently found out what these yummy little goodies were named. They are basically two cake cookies with icing in the middle. Sounds so simple, looks so decadent. I chose to make mine with a pumpkin spiced cake batter. I also love chocolate so of course I had to throw in some milk chocolate chips. And I chopped some pecans to roll the edges.

My first experiment with these are not quite the result I saw in my head when dreaming of these every night. But they turned out good enough to take into work and share. Believe me, when you are involved in the study of "experimental culinary goodness" there are more than a few recipes that lack a little, well, goodness. Those less than triumphal results usually stay at home on the kitchen counter or in the fridge until they have sufficiently ripened to the point that I no longer feel guilty about dumping them in the garbage.

Not a bad first attempt, but a little more filling will help.

In the Great Whoopie Pie Experiment of June 2008, I accidentally discovered a twist that I had not expected, but like so much more than the whoopie in my dreams. First, since this first batch was a test, I made them with a little less icing than normal. I just wanted to make sure that I has the taste down, I could always add as much icing as I wanted for the final version. But testing recipes can add a lot of "real estate" to my butt in a very short time. For this reason, I also made most of them in a mini version. The minis were cute and just needed a little less time in the oven, although they didn't puff up as much as the larger version. The lack of icing, however, does make it difficult to roll the edges in the pecans because there is not much for the nuts to stick to.

I had a little cream cheese icing left over from my big giant Red Velvet Mega Cupcake. Once the icing was gone, I had to improvise. I checked around the kitchen for inspiration. On the TV in the other room, the opening melody of Giada DeLaurentis' "Everyday Italian" began to chime out and inspiration struck. Giada, although not in this episode, often makes the most devilish desserts with Nutella. Many times I have had to wipe the drool from my chin as I watch her make something like a Nutella Pizza or Fried Ravioli with Nutella Filling. And lo, up on the top shelf of my all too tiny kitchen cabinet was a lone jar of the chocolate and hazelnut ambrosia of the gods.

Nutella to the rescue!

My mini, flat whoopies were saved. Adding the Nutella in the middle was genius. That wonderful pumpkin spice was perfectly complimented and the pecans stuck like glue in the gooey goodness. When I make these for the final testing, they will definitely have the Nutella. Silly me... cream cheese icing, what was I thinking?!

Mini Pumpkin Spiced Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies With Nutella Filling and Pecans

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Food Gawker- A New Tasty Treat!

After a sad day of learning about the end of, a shining beacon of hope has come to the rescue. The cyber-refrigerator door has opened and the little light has come on to reveal a new site hoping to pick up where Tastespotting left off. has taken the reigns to lead lovers of "food porn" to the promised land. Bloggers are already posting and it seems to be off to a great start. I for one will be checking it out as soon as I'm done writing this post.

I hear there are other sites starting to pop up hoping to create something as wonderful as Tastespotting. I will hunt them down and add links to my column on the left as I find them.

Food is one of the essentials of life, and so too is food blogging! Thank you Chuck from Sunday Night Dinner for getting Food Gawker up and running so quickly. You don't know how many meals you have saved!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lil' baby herbs...koochie koo!

So far my little 4th grade science experiment seems to be working. Just a few days after beginning my herb garden, little sprouts have begun to form!

The basil seeds are sprouting. Mmmmm, I can taste the pesto already!

This tarragon will go marvelously with a nice juicy about a month or so.

I'm so excited. The other seeds have not sprouted yet but a few of them look almost ready. I think the coriander will be the next to start showing signs of life and it will be on its way to becoming cilantro. Ooh, I have so many recipes that call for cilantro, it bugs me that I still have to buy it while I wait. Patience, patience...

Posted by LittleBrownBird at 5:42 PM

moonmystic said...
I always loved those experiments!
June 11, 2008 9:05 PM
jealousydesign said...
oh, so fun to see! I need to get started with my plants to.
June 11, 2008 9:09 PM

Monday, June 9, 2008

My Obsession!!!!

I finally did it! After months of working out and watching every tiny calorie to get in shape for summer, I have finally given in to the one nagging craving that has haunted me through every weigh-in. I have endured countless disgusted looks from restaurant servers when I asked if the chef could make my plain chicken breast and steamed broccoli without oil or butter. I have suffered endless bruises from falling off my excercise "Bean" while doing crunches. I have knocked the lamp off the bedroom dresser and kicked the dog (sorry, Zuzu) twice while Tae-bo'ing. And it has paid off, having lost nearly 40lbs. since September. Back to my fighting weight of 121lbs., all I have to do is wait for summer to get here.

Of course, here in the midwest, the unofficial start to summer happened on Memorial Day. When WAS that again? Mother nature seems to have forgotten the traditional start to the sun, fun, and beach season. Well, WTF?! I busted my @$$ for rain every freakin' day? Tornado warnings, flash floods, hail! Ya, I said HAIL! You know, that stuff that is actually chunks of ICE falling from the sky! In JUNE!

That does it. No more Ms. Nice Girl. I promised my self that when I reached my goal weight and summer arrived, I was going to give in to my obsession. I have been craving a Red Velvet cupcake with cream cheese icing. Just a cupcake. Not a big deal. What harm could that be?

The Mega Cupcake! Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Monster Cupcake with Cream Cheese Icing!

Mmmmmmm, yummy goodness. What? If I'm going to have to wait for Mother Nature to get her act together, I might as well take full advantage of the situation. (For size reference: The dish used in the photo is my grandmother's fine china serving charger.)

Posted by LittleBrownBird at 3:21 PM
Labels: ,

Silver Canyons said...
that's just awesome!!!! I am sure you look absolutely FAB!!!!!Keep it up girl!!!
June 9, 2008 5:02 PM
jealousydesign said...
wow! that is so strong of you to make it! I wish I had that self discipline. that cake looks so yummy........
June 9, 2008 8:27 PM
moonmystic said...
Congrats on working so hard and earning your reward. I hope it was dreamy.
June 9, 2008 9:08 PM
Mary Ryan said...
June 14, 2008 4:34 PM

Sunday, June 8, 2008

In the kitchen with Mary...

I have decided to go ahead with making my cookbook. Everytime I cook something really yummy I think, "Why don't I write this down and take a picture of it?" I have so many ideas for recipes. Making a cook book might give me the reason to go ahead and test some new things. And I'll be photographing the ones that turn out "pretty" so I can remember what they are supposed to look like because I just hate cook books without pictures! I never know if I've made it right or how it should be plated.

mmm...doesn't it just make you drool?

This first recipe that is going into the book is a smoked turkey sausage served with spaghetti squash, into which, I mixed 3 different cheeses. I cleverly named it...wait for the drum-roll...
Smoked Turkey Sausage with 3-Cheese Spaghetti Squash
I know, shocking! I'm so creative sometimes. I'd like to think I use so much of my creativity in my cooking that there's nothing left for the name. (wink) Whatever, I'm just a dork.

Oh ya, I'm not a vegan!

I will be refining the recipe a little before I set the final version in stone. I used red onion, which I usually don't cook because I prefer the bite of it when it's raw. But I had a little red onion left over in the fridge that I wanted to use before it went bad (naughty onion) so I mixed it with a little spanish onion, also a left-over. I really want the sausage to stand out though so I think I might try this with shallots next time. According to Mario (Iron Chef Mario Batali), shallots have a more subtle flavor. I don't remember a specific time that I have cooked with shallots before but I'm sure I have. And I like the slight pinkish color of shallots too. I want this dish to be colorful. I thought of adding roasted red pepper or sundried tomatoes to the mix but I thought the flavors would get too much in the way of the sausage, and certainly the spaghetti squash, for this one.
Spaghetti squash has such a lightness about it that it is easily overwhelmed by other stronger flavors. For that reason, I am also going to cut down on the amount of cheese. Oh, there will still be three cheeses, just not as much. I didn't use much cheese to begin with. But I also want to make this a healthy dish. I chose cheeses that pack a lot of flavor in them so I don't have to use so much to get the point across. You're dying to know what they are, aren't you? Fine, whatever. I used a little fresh goat cheese to create a nice creamy sauce. I also love, love, love asiago so I had to throw that in there. The last one was one that I haven't cooked with before. I found that aged provolone, which I don't like in my favorite tomato and provalone sandwhich (I prefer the lighter taste of regular provalone for that), is quite nice when melted. The aged provalone has a good bite to it like parmesan but...different. The asiago and aged provalone do get a little oily (which doesn't really jive with the whole "healthy" thing) when melted but I think that problem will be solved once I reduce the amounts used.

Isn't it pretty?

The result of this first try was incredibly "nummers"! The kitchen smelled sooooo good and it looked good enough to, well, eat. Don't laugh, you haven't heard about all my culinary disasters. That's going to be a whole other book. And my neighbors must think I'm crazy, out on the patio taking "beauty shots" of my food before I eat it! Whatever, it's my world, everyone else is just scenery. LOL!
Posted by LittleBrownBird at 8:19 AM

moonmystic said...
Oh my yummy!
June 8, 2008 12:59 PM
Made By Tammy said...
That is Pretty!I'm going to come over and take it off your patio, Yum!!
June 8, 2008 8:11 PM

Spice Cabinet Woes!

I'm hoping to figure out a way to organize this mess. I have the tiniest kitchen and only this tiny cabinet to store all my spices. As you can see, I use A LOT of spices when I cook. Very few of these go unused.

A close up of the scene of the crime!

I spend most of my "cooking" time looking for the spice or dried herb that I need. And when I open the cabinet, tiny bottles go flying into my sauce pans! I don't exactly have a user-friendly kitchen.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My New Herb Garden

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I love cooking with fresh herbs. But I hate buying them at the grocery store. I mean, are they kidding charging $3.89 for a tiny package of fresh basil?! Yowza! Times are tough. $3.89 is ALMOST a gallon of gas these days. (And don't get me started on that!) So, it's time to cut back somewhere.

I will be planting my own herb garden in a couple of big pots on my patio since my townhome association doesn't allow such planting in the yard.

Who knew 4th grade was important?
As best that I can remember from left to right, starting at the top: Mint, Sage, Rosemary, Lavender, Cilantro/Coriander, Basil, Tarragon, Dill.

I'm starting my herb garden the way I learned in 4th grade. Lay the seeds out on a wet paper towel and cover. They should start sprouting in a few days.

Coriander is the seed form of Cilantro.

Basil seeds.
These are so cool! Just about 2 minutes under the wet paper towel and already they begin to transform. Don't these kind of look like caviar at this stage?

I do admit to having a brown thumb when it comes to gardening so this might be a bit of an adventure at best. At worst, I'll be starting this over again next week. I can't wait to start cooking with these though. They say food tastes better when you make it yourself. I'm hoping the same is true when you grow your own herbs.
Posted by LittleBrownBird at 9:31 AM

Jewelry on Etsy Team said...
Hey-- I just found out a great trick-- on the really tough-thick shelled seeds-- nick it with a knife or sand a bit with a nail file-- the water will activate the sprouting process MUCH faster!!!Fish
June 12, 2008 10:49 AM