Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I poached an egg!

On Christmas Day, Brad and I hosted brunch for Dad Ganey, sister (Shannon) and brother-in-law (Tim). Over the last several years, this has become our "tradition" ...but this year I wanted to take it a step further and make a gourmet meal.

We've been watching a lot of Alton Brown's Good Eats episodes lately and I really enjoyed the episode on his Eggs Benedict. When you watch the entire episode, he literally explains how to make the entire meal (made-from-scratch english muffins, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce) for your guests, the morning of! Unfortunately, we were pretty busy preparing and cooking that morning that we failed to take many pictures - my presentation wasn't spectacular so maybe it worked out in my favor ;)

Here is the link with instructions on how to many all the items from scratch:

The really fun part was poaching the egg! I will admit that I was extremely nervous - it's as if I worked up the task of poaching an egg to be very complex (in my head)... and it wasn't! It was pretty simple, even for this amateur cooker :)

What I found amazing about Alton's instructions was that he suggests setting custard cups into the water (I used ramekins we got for Christmas from my sister). This helps keep the egg in place and it also lets you easily distinguish the order that you put the eggs into the water. Considering I was going to be poaching 9 eggs and I had never done this before, I was impressed with the way they turned out!

After cooking the eggs, I quickly transferred them to an ice bath (per Alton's instructions). This stopped the cooking process immediately and it also made it a lot easier to re-heat the eggs when it was time for brunch! I 100% suggest following Alton's instructions when attempting to make Eggs Benedict for more than 2 people. 


Brad did a superb job cooking the english muffins from scratch - the texture of the muffin with the semi-runny yolk from the poached egg was SO delicious! I made the bacon as our guests were coming in so the whole house smelled like delicious bacon. Bacon is my favorite

Our hollandaise sauce was another story. Although it tasted okay, it wasn't creamy and it had a little bit of grainy texture. Its almost as if the butter separated itself from the lemon juice/egg mixture. After 30 minutes of "whisking the butter into submission" .... I have to say that the butter won the battle and my arms were TIRED!

You can pretend that our Eggs Benedict looked like this:


But my hollandaise sauce really looked something like this:

You see how its missing the creaminess? I will have to attempt this again! 

But our guests ate every bite on their plate! Maybe because they felt bad for me were hungry since we ate at 11am and our house smelled like bacon when they walked in ;) Ha! Although the presentation and hollandaise sauce wasn't Chef quality, it really was a delicious Eggs Benedict!



xoxo
Chef Stephanita

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lasagna before 7am

Let me start off by saying that I am not a consistent cooker and its probably because I don't know my way around the kitchen as well as my husband does. What takes him 45 minutes to prepare usually takes me 2 hours and every utensil in my kitchen is dirtied in the process; and who wants to eat dinner at 9pm with a dirty kitchen?? Not me!

There are some days that I have popcorn and wine for dinner because I can't stand the idea of cooking in my newly remodeled kitchen (a DIY project my husband and I completed have almost completed, which I will soon tell you guys about) and there are other days that I wake up in the mood to make a gourmet meal. When I'm not in the mood to cook, it's not because my kitchen isn't beautiful, its because I don't want to spend 2 hours making an "okay-tasting" meal (my words, not his).

Today was one of the latter days, I prepared lasagna before 7am! Some people may not call lasagna gourmet, but do you remember when I said that my mother (Mami Saravia) has a few amazing dishes that she only makes a few times a year? Well her lasagna is one of them! Everyone in my family always asks Mami Saravia to make her lasagna for family gatherings, special events, etc. and then everyone proceeds to ask for leftovers! She doesn't have a recipe but I will tell you that two of her special ingredients are pepperoni and sour cream :)


My lasagna doesn't compare to Mami Saravia's but I woke up at 5am this morning in the mood to make it and here is what I did:

INGREDIENTS
1 lb of ground turkey
Onion
Mushrooms
Green pepper
Orange pepper
Minced garlic
Italian seasoning
Tony's cajun seasoning
Prego spaghetti sauce (or anything BOGO at Publix)
1 box of oven ready lasagne 
Mozzarella cheese
Ricotta cheese
Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS
Finely chop onions, mushrooms, green pepper and orange pepper. Sauté ingredients in a medium-sized pot on medium/high heat for 5-7 minutes and add minced garlic. Then, add ground turkey and cook until brown. Lower heat. Season with Italian seasoning and Tony's until desired taste and add spaghetti sauce. Simmer for 30-45 minutes for flavors to settle.

Spread one-third of meat sauce in a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish; layer with 3 noodles and half each of ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese. (The ricotta cheese layers will be thin.) Repeat procedure; spread remaining one-third of meat sauce over mozzarella cheese. Tightly cover baking dish with 2 layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Bake at 375° for 45 minutes; uncover and bake 10 more minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

_________________________________________

My sister/brother-in-law gifted me a new apron for Christmas (we celebrate Christmas 3 weeks early in the Ganey family) and I totally forgot to put it on this morning! So after my lasagna mission, I headed to the shower, spent some time fixing up my hair and proceeded to take a photo to show off my new apron!

Disclosure: this photo was taken
many hours after the lasagna mission

Happy Thursday!

xo
Stephanie


Friday, December 5, 2014

Turkey Trot 5k

Last Thursday, Brad and I ran the Turkey Trot in Fish Hawk. It was a very cold morning but that usually means happy running in Florida! I ran multiple times around the parking lot for a 1 mile warm up. We even got to see some of our BRA (Brandon Running Association) friends! 
Yes, those are ear warmers in Florida!
I haven't raced a 5k since October 2013 when I finished in 26:22 (8:24 avg pace) and I was almost throwing up at the finish line trying to catch up to a girl in front of me.

This year, I think I over did it with the layers - I was sweating bullets during the last mile and I just didn't have time to take off my thick, black long sleeve shirt. I didn't have a race plan going into this, but I did want to "run fast" to get a PR. This is pretty much how it went:

Start line - "I think I can run fast.. its nice and cold outside. Oh wow! My phone doesn't turn on, how am I supposed to listen to that funky music which helps me run fast?" :(

1st mile - I can try to run around all of these people who were lined up in the 8min mile group, let me jog on the side walk and try to keep behind my running buddy Randy.... I think I can keep this 8:04 pace!

2nd mile - Okay, I lost Randy but here comes Esther! I know she is fast but maybe I can try to keep up with her. I really wish that my phone was working right now so that I can listen to a little bit of music... maybe i'll just sing to myself. I am going to stop at the water stop, I'm feeling a little thirsty! I'm struggling to keep my 8:10 pace!

3rd.1 mile - I don't know if I'm going to PR. This long sleeve is really making me sweat, I've stopped at both water stops and I just can't keep my breathing while going this fast. I need to slow down and walk/run some just to finish! Why did you go out too fast, Stephanie? Boooo, look at the "up hill" slope near the finish line.


I know what you're probably thinking, she talks to herself while running? Well I need something to keep my brain preoccupied! I finished in 26:09 (8:14 avg pace). So I guess I achieved my goal to set a PR but maybe I would have done a little better if I was more conservative at the start line - and if I didn't have to sing to myself for 3 miles :D

Lesson learned: don't go out too fast! And ask for a new phone for Christmas? :)




xo
Stephanie


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pumpkin Cake Cupcakes


My favorite workplace activity around the holidays is the Thanksgiving Potluck! I made these little pumpkin cake cupcakes for my husband's work potluck and they tasted looked great! ...I probably should have ate one before I sent them off to work with him, oops!

The first time I baked this recipe (almost 4 years ago), I confused Tbsp with Tsp. Although the cake smelled great in the oven, it tasted awful with all that extra baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon! I also used Splenda (because the packaging said GRANULATED SUGAR in large words) instead of real sugar. This epic fail of an easy recipe is when I realized that my forte wasn't in the kitchen. I've made this recipe many times again and I promise that its very delicious if you just follow the directions correctly :)

BAKING 101

1. Do you know the difference between a Paddle and a Whip is?
I give credit to my husband who found some learning material on this topic here











The paddle (left) is used for mixing, stirring, incorporating without aerating your batter. Wonder why your chocolate chip cookie is flat? Its because there is too much air in your batter.

The Whip (right) was made to aerate your cake batter (its not meant for the cookie!). 


2. Always mix your dry ingredients separately
This is one instruction that isn't always obvious in a recipe. Apparently if you just throw your baking soda and powder in a mixture of liquid ingredients, you could have clumpy soda left in your batter (thats my reasoning). But bakers suggest mixing separately in order to uniformly mix your dry ingredients.

The bottom line:
Who likes clumpy, bite size pieces of baking soda in their cupcakes? Not me!


3. How to "soften" butter and cream cheese
Recipes never say how to do this - but you SHOULDN'T just put these
ingredients in your microwave to soften them :)

I promise that here IS a difference between
soft butter and hot, melted butter! Who woulda thunk?
This is an easy one! Just let your butter and cream cheese sit out at room temperature until its nice and soft.

PS - this requires to plan ahead and read the recipe so your ingredients are soft when you are ready to bake, duh Stephanie!



4. Food coloring makes everything fun!
I always wanted to know how to make Aztec Blue :)
On the back of food coloring boxes are instructions on how to make fun colors by combining the existing colors provided in the box. 

PS - the NEON box has even better color variations than the standard food color box provides.





THE RECIPES
(in the background is Mom Ganey's famous family recipe book)

Pumpkin Cake

4 Eggs
1-2/3 Cups of Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Cooking Oil
1 16 Oz Can Pumpkin
2 Cups of All-Purpose Flour
2 Tsp Baking Powder
2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Baking Soda


Directions: 
In a mixer bowl, beat together eggs, granulated sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffly.
Stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and soda.
Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and mix thoroughly.
Spread batter in ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees (or 15 minutes if cooking mini cupcakes).


Cream Cheese Icing
1 3 Oz Pkg Cream Cheese, Softened
1/2 Cup Butter, Softened
1 Tsp Vanilla
2 Cups Powdered Sugar, Sifted

Cream together cream cheese and butter. Stir in vanilla. Add powdered sugar, a little at a time, beating well until mixture is smooth.


...or at least trying to be a domesticated wife :)

Enjoy!

xo
Stephanie

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why blogging? Thank you Julie & Julia

A few weeks ago, my husband and I spent the weekend at my mother-in-law's (MIL) house. My MIL is like Martha Stewart (only she didn't go to jail) - she is an inspiration to young women like myself who lack the natural ability to cook, sew and be creative (amongst many other woman-like skills). That weekend, we watched Julie & Julia; my new all-time-favorite movie about a writer/wife/young woman named Julie Powell (Amy Adams) who cooks and blogs her way through Julia Child's (Meryl Streep) french cook book; 524 recipes in 365 days. That's a lot of cooking! But, I left my MIL's house convinced that I should start a blog and write about running (the only real thing I know how to do lately) and all things domesticated that I'd like to learn.

People who know me, know that I struggle in the kitchen (and other parts of life that I'd like to avoid admitting so early on). I have been known to confuse Tbsp with tsp (which does not make for a tasty pumpkin cake) and I have washed dishes with a basting brush (I'll have to share that story another time); my idea of "cooking" was once microwave broccoli, chicken strips with lemon pepper seasoning and Pasta Sides on the stovetop. In the last several years I have enjoyed much tastier meals - a few cooked by myself and many others cooked by my husband (who inherited his mother's culinary wonderfulness) and my father (who is the master of all cooking in my household growing up). I am like my mother in the kitchen, I have one really good dish that I only cook once a year.

 Okay, I'm not that bad but I have
been known to turn on a fire alarm or two.

So I have decided to really learn how to cook, bake, crochet, other domesticated-like things and maybe even build something with my own two hands (I said maybe!). Along the way I'll continue my happy journey of running. I believe that running will keep me sane :)

Welcome to my journey! 

xo
Stephanie