Stabbing your Ex — and other things to do with cutlery…

Little known fact about me is that I’m kind of a foodie — by that I mean that I enjoy cooking and I actually think I’m pretty good at it.  But I don’t only enjoy cooking, I enjoy exploring new recipes, learning new techniques (because I don’t know that many) and trying new foods.  The reason I bring this up is because I was only this evening looking for a good and affordable set of cutlery.  So of course, after traversing through one of my favorite web sites – Food Network — I opted to check out overstock.com — where I came across a unique set designed by Italian designer Raffaele Ianello.  Who is Raffaele Ianello?  <shrug> beats me, but according to his website, he designs “cutting edge, ground breaking and thought provoking products” — I’ll say!  The design I saw that made me think WTF was this one:T10220048

Twisted right?  And get this — this is called “The Ex”!  Overstock.com’s description reads:  “Though frowned upon by many, stabbing your ex can really give you some closure, although it’s often the kind of closure that leaves you closed for thirty to life.”  And it goes on to say that the set not only “makes a great gift for any occasion and it’s also considerably cheaper than therapy”  Like really?  I’m not sure if I’m more disturbed, or if I find it more funny than anything else — or maybe I should be disturbed about the fact that I find it funny???

So of course I had to do more research on this piece, along with others from Mr. Iannello.  I learned that The Ex has made its movie debut in Jim Carey’s Yes Man! And that Mr. Iannello also has another piece called The Five Finger Fillet which houses steak knives….

FFFKR_1

Crazy right?  All I know is that whereas I wouldn’t buy it for my kitchen, and no matter how twisted they are, they’re definitely conversational pieces that are pretty funny.  If however, you find that this is something that you would like for your kitchen, then check out overstock.com or Mr. Iannello’s website at http://www.ricsb.com/us.

You’ve been Chopped!

Chopped-logoIt always amazes me to watch Chef’s cook. They come up with these concoctions that just sound and look delicious.  Of course I’m watching a cooking show at the moment called Chopped.  The premise of the show is similar to that of Top Chef, however it’s scaled down to a winner per show, rather than per season.  In Chopped four Chefs converge in a single kitchen to put out 3 courses.  Each course becomes more and more complex and with each evaluation the judges select their least favorite dish and then “chop” the Chef off the show.

In this particular episode, Chef Gavin Mills, Sous chef – Mas Farmhouse in New York, N.Y., made an incredible looking dish of tomato and mussel ragout with potato and celery root hash. Confession time — I have no clue what ragout is, but I’m thinking he’s referring to a stew of some sort? And then celery root, i wouldn’t even know where to begin with celery root! But the dish looked incredible!

Now I’m definitely no Chef — but I’ve never starved. However, I am inspired and curious. I love the fact that Chef’s have creative freedom to produce amazing experiences — much like that of a wine maker, just with more immediate results. Last night I met an Executive Chef from the Playboy mansion. And he was telling me that one of the challenges he loves is going to a friend’s house, raiding the pantry and seeing how creative they can be. To be honest, that sounds like a great time! The challenge would be intellectually stimulating, and the pleasure of stimulating the taste buds would be rewarding — pair that with a delicious wine and I would need a moment of silence!

Ok, time to look at culinary courses at the local college!

PS: for desert Chef Gavin made roasted figs with almond and sabayon. — again, no clue what sabayon is — but YUM!

Pumpkin Scones – Are they worthy?

So if you know me, you’ll know that I am definitely a Starbucks addict!  My poison?  A Venti Chai Tea Latte with Soy, no water, no foam.  My recent vices?  Scones!  They are delicious!  BUT, they are so high in calories, thus high in points… aarg!  So I scoured the Internet in search of a pumpkin scone recipe that would be just as good as the ones found at Starbucks, but without all those points.  I did find one that looked promising and when I placed the recipe into WW’s Recipe Builder, it came out to be 4 points per serving.  I will definitely be making these in the next couple of days (if not tonight) to see if they are worthy of even being compared to the ones at Starbucks.  The following is the recipe:

Pumpkin Scones

1/4 cup Granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Pumpkin pie spice
2 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
3 teaspoons Baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
3 tablespoons Smart Balance Omega-3 Light Spread
1 cup Pumpkin — canned
1/4 cup Buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees; coat a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar and pumpkin pie spice until well mixed; reserve 1 1/2 teaspoons. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the remaining sugar-spice mixture; mix well. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut in the margarine until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl with a wire whisk, beat the pumpkin and buttermilk until well combined. Add to the flour mixture; toss with a fork just until the dry ingredients are moistened.

On a floured surface, gently knead the dough until smooth and no longer sticky. Shape into a ball. Place on the cookie sheet and press into a 9-inch circle. Sprinkle with the reserved sugar-spice mixture. Cut into 8 wedges; separate slightly. Bake for 18 to 24 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm.

4 Points per serving

Easy, Filling and Low Points!

Friday night I wanted to make a healthy, low fat, low points dinner.  I came across the following recipes, which were healthy, filling and delicious!  Since the focus was on the food, I didn’t plan ahead of time to pick out the wines, however I would recommend a light Pinot Gris or even a fruity California Chardonnay – I think either would go beautifully!

Apple Braised Chicken (5 pts per serving)

2 tsp vegetable oil
1 pound(s) uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, four 4-oz pieces
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 large onion(s), sliced
2 medium apple(s), firm, cored and sliced
1 cup(s) apple cider
1 cup(s) fat-free chicken broth
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cornstarch
In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, warm oil over high heat. Toss chicken with flour in a medium bowl, patting off excess. Place chicken in skillet and brown well on both sides. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
Reduce stove temperature to low and add onion to skillet. Sauté, stirring often, until onion is tender and lightly browned.
Stir in apples, cider, chicken broth, salt, ginger and chicken. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer chicken, onions and apples to a serving dish.
In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 2 to 3 tablespoons of pan juices. Combine cornstarch mixture with remaining pan juices, whisking constantly. Simmer for one minute. Pour sauce over chicken and serve. Yields 1 chicken breast and about 3/4 cup of apple-onion mixture per serving

Modifications — I didn’t have apple cider, so I used apple juice.  And, after making the sauce from the pan juices, I think that this is optional because I don’t think it really made a difference.  The chicken was moist and flavorful without the extra sauce.  Also, by mistake, I bought 1 pound of chicken brest tenders, which worked out wonderfully!

Stuffed Apples (3 points):

2 large apple(s), Rome
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
2 tbsp raisins
1/8 cup(s) chopped walnuts
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Instructions

Halve the apples crosswise (we decided that this meant to cut through the core of the apple), then partially core them to create a small cavity. Cut a paper-thin slice from the bottom of each apple half so they stand upright. Place the halves, core-side up, in a microwavable pie plate.
In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar, the raisins, walnuts, honey and cinnamon. Spoon into the cavities, then sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar.
Cover the pie plate with plastic wrap, venting it. Microwave on High until the apples are tender, 5-6 minutes. Carefully remove the plastic wrap; place the apples on 4 dessert plates.
Microwave the pan juices on High until syrupy, 2-4 minutes. Spoon over the apples. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy!

Glühwein

Yesterday I tasted Glühwein for the fist time and it was interesting.  I can’t say that I had ever heard of warm wine before, but Peter (my boss) assures me that it is very popular and has been for quite a while!  Being the curious person that I am, naturally I googled it this morning – and of course he was right!  According to Wikipedia, the authoritative recipe can be found in Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management at paragraph 1961 on page 929 to 930 of the revised edition dated 1869:

“1961.-TO MULL WINE.

INGREDIENTS.- To every pint of wine allow 1 large cupful of water, sugar and spice to taste.

Mode.-In making preparations like the above, it is very difficult to give the exact proportions of ingredients like sugar and spice, as what quantity might suit one person would be to another quite distasteful. Boil the spice in the water until the flavour is extracted, then add the wine and sugar, and bring the whole to the boiling-point, when serve with strips of crisp dry toast, or with biscuits. The spices usually used for mulled wine are cloves, grated nutmeg, and cinnamon or mace. Any kind of wine may be mulled, but port and claret are those usually selected for the purpose; and the latter requires a very large proportion of sugar. The vessel that the wine is boiled in must be delicately clean, and should be kept exclusively for the purpose. Small tin warmers may be purchased for a trifle, which are more suitable than saucepans, as, if the latter are not scrupulously clean, they spoil the wine, by imparting to it a very disagreeable flavour. These warmers should be used for no other purpose.”

Who knew?  Well probably a lot of people, but certainly not me!  Nevertheless, I watched as Peter made his tried and true family recipe of Glühwein — a little bit of this, a lot of that, and some of this.  His recipe is a secret, so it’s not like I can post it on here, but it was good!  As first I wasn’t sure what to expect, but as his concoction cooled to lukewarm, it was delicious.  You could make out some of the spices, definately appreciate the taste of the wine, and the secret ingredients definately brought about a warmth and glow promised by the name, which means “to glow” because of the “warmth”!  Definately a special treat to consider for the upcoming holdays!    Thanks Peter for sharing!!!!