I cook at home regularly, always seeking new recipes. I absolutely love trying new, unconventional dishes...the ones you're not 100% sold on due to bizarre ingredients that end up amazing, especially

  • Favorite foods: Asian noodles, potstickers, curries, soups. Fried plantains, Caesar salad, red velvet cupcakes, bear claws, almond macaroons, filet mignon with bleu cheese, chicken picatta, turkey meat loaf, good dark chocolate ice cream
  • Last bite on earth: to once again enjoy the kobe burger on a pretzel bun with a fried egg and fig-peppercorn spread that I had at a restaurant in chicago....soooo good, it renewed my love of excellent burgers

Who cares what famous people eat?

I agree with you. Its not who you're cooking for, its what you've been inspired to make that counts.

To Grill or Not to Grill

I agree about the pan searing, they will dry out on the grill. Make sure your pan is screaming hot and sear on each side until their natural sugars caramelize and then get them outta that pan so they don't over cook and get tough!

The Sometimes Fabulous food of the young and Broke

@dbcurrie- This sounds all too familiar! =) I used to have friends over that knew how much I loved to cook and wanted me to make them dinner quite often...which was stressful because it meant using up what would have been many meals worth of food for myself.

I would take bnls sknls chicken breasts and slice them in half, to make them thinner and sautee them in italian salad dressing and serve them sliced up on top of spaghetti and marinara sauce from the jar. They loved it for some reason. I just asked that they bring the bread. I would slather slices of the bread with butter and garlic powder and bake them until crisp, throw a bit of parmesan over everything if i was lucky enough to have it. My friends would act like i made them the most lavish dinner! I turned them on to putting garlic chili paste in the tomato sauce for a kick and they loved it even more. It was crazy to me, i would think to myself, "wait til i can afford to cook you real food!"

My friends enjoyment made it easier to deal with an empty pantry, just ate a ton of dinner rolls at work those weeks. But it was like being told i had just won the lottery when my mom would announce she wanted me to join her for a dinner was so nice to fill up, and even nicer if there were leftovers!

@girlfromjetcity- My Mark bittman cookbook has been a huge help lately! I kind of forgot about it for a while, but dusted it off last week. He really seems to hear that little voice in your head that says, "aw crap! I don't wanna buy that for one dish!" and offers up realistic and inventive variations, I love it!

The Sometimes Fabulous food of the young and Broke

@lemonfair, you should try adding a cracked egg to your ramen. Leave the heat on after the noodles are done, season your broth and let noodles soak a bit, drain, then back in the pan. Crack an egg over the noodles and fry, stirring occaisionally(its best if the egg doesn't get too broken up), until egg is done. Hit it with a bit of soy sauce and some garlic chili paste. Its a really yummy and different way to enjoy ramen!

I learned this from a friend of a friend who lived in japan for a while and had issues getting to like the food(which i could not fathom!). He got acclimated by mixing things he ate at home with some asian flare.

favorite stoned snack

Baskin Robbins used to have this honey flavored ice cream with a fudge swirl and bits of sea foam candy in it one summer, I think I was the only person eating it and ate about 5 gallons of it! I miss those good old days and that good old faster metabolism!

Food network...try food competetion network

to ribster, I often find myself watching food network for lack of better things to watch, but do watch travel channel more often now because i'd rather see anthony bourdain make snarky comments and try all kinds of foods i probably never will have an oppertunity to.

To MarvinDog, i agree 100% about the ace of cakes plywood thing. I work in a bakery and we all can't stand that show! When we get orders for fondant or gumpaste work I am the one who does them and we always joke that i should make up a batch of rice crispy treats to stuff in my projects instead of actual cake

I think i'm going to have to start watching pbs on saturdays like donnie says, saturdays are the days fn brings out the crappiest of their shows. I hate Paula's party!!!! AAAK! And nfns is like american idol for a cooking show host. I really miss the frugal gormet, julia child, justin wilson, and yan can cook....sigh...and, Epicurious, when it was on discovery channel was nice too

Taste Test: Milk Chocolate Bars

I don't eat much milk chocolate at all, don't really care for it. I'm a super dark chocolate fan. I wanted to make a triple chocolate cookie recipe and broke down and bought a starbucks milk chocolate was better than most of the milk chocolates i've tried, but a little pricy for being sold at walmart

What would be your last beer?

three floyds GUMBALL HEAD, hands down. Its from northern indiana. Its a super hoppy wheat beer, that does not taste like gumballs at all

chopt'd, toss'd, stress'd!!!

I don't know if you like tuna, but a classic nicoise salad is a nice combo for a chopped salad. With boiled red potatoes, green beans, flaked tuna, olives, red onion, tomatoes, and lettuce in a light mustard vinaigrette. I also like dried tart cherries, wheat berries, walnuts, and salmon over romaine with a lemony vinaigrette, had something similar at panera bread a few years ago and now make it at home

What lengths do you go through for your favourite?

Now that is dedication. I live about an hour and a half away from chicago right now. A while back, when in culinary school, I would kill time in the city while waiting for fellow car-pooling students to finish class by going to a Whole Foods Market....i was flabberghasted and totally smitten by all of the beautifully arranged, brightly colored produce, the gleaming fish counter filled with exotic fishes i'd never seen before, the intoxicating cheese counter, at which i gobbled up several samples, the ruby red beef at the meat counter that looked so perfectly fresh, the wildly eclectic pastry counter...i could go on and on...It was the beginning of a long, long love affair. I save my change, i try to snip a certain portion out of each of my measly weekly budget alottments i give myself, and i dream of going back there. When i have enough cash, finally, I pack my trusty igloo cooler in my car and stuff it full of ice and make the drive to one of three whole foods stores, which has taken nearly 3 hours at times due to expressway construction. i go nuts in there! I buy exactly what i want, what looks good, things i've never seen or tried before, without any regrets. Returning home with all the goodies i'd never find in boring northern indiana is like foodie christmas! Then, i dread going to the crappy mega marts and chain grocery stores at home, feeling punished for having to shop at them when the whole foods loot is gone! Peaks and valleys...sigh

'The Un-Constipated Gourmet: Secrets to a Moveable Feast'

I have to agree that it's a yucky title... And to redfish who said if tastes like tree bark eat as much as you can of it, thats hilarious because it can be soooo true! Fiber isn't always tastey, not that it can't be. It just really takes some personal research of fiberous foods you are willing and wanting to eat. I purchased a diatary book that is geared more toward calorie counters, but shows the compltete stats of many, many foods to find out what I could be eating to increase my fiber intake and just eat healthier in general. And, it really doesn't matter what you're stuffing down your gullet if you're not drinking enought water!

having bad luck with brown rice

I truly appreciate all of the helpful comments! =)

I've been walmart brand brown rice (looks to be a medium grain). On a budget and bought the family of 50 size bag, even though its mostly just myself eating it, to save in the long run.

The package says bring 2 1/2 cups water to a boil, add salt, butter/margarine and salt to a boil. Then, add 1 cup rice, reduce heat, cover and simmer 40-45 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. fluff with fork.

Right off the bat, i have to admit i do tend to give it a stir once the rice is in the pot. And I think I am really keeping my simmer too low, it seems to take closer to an hour when I've cooked this particular brand of rice. I check it frequently after the 40 minute mark because I start getting frustrated that there is so much liquid still left in the pot. I think I've been fussing with it too much. Plus, now that I think of it, 2 1/2 cups water to1 cup rice seems like a bit too much.

I use the mahatma brand jasmine rice and love it. its truly my go-to rice, as I've never screwed it up. Its absolutely wonderful cooked in chicken stock with a generous pinch of tumric, such a vibrantly colored, yet, subtle side dish. So, maybe it would be wise to buy the mahatma brown rice as well.

I have a rice cooker, and this is going to sound dumb, but i only have ever used it to make sushi rice. It just sits in the cabinet. I've been a bit daunted to try brown rice in it since a co-worker said she tried it and got the wet mush. Time to dust the pour little thing off and give it a whirl.

I've seen the Good Eats where AB bakes the rice, that intrigues me and I plan on trying that too.

To orchidgirl, who recommended sauteeing the rice before adding the water, I like that idea a lot. I love cooking wheat berries and pearled barley and each of those benefit from being toasted in the pan, i wish I had thought of that(maybe a soak first too)

Favorite foods eaten at the 'wrong' temperatures?

i totally agree with anyone who says cold fried chicken...sooooo good! I also have a thing for grossly over-heated lasagna, left overs that have been zapped to death in the microwave the next day...mostly happens because i have a wonkey microwave and forget about the food after i cook it. I've really come to love the crunchy dried edges and room temp ricotta in the middle

savory pesto goat cheese cheesecake

I think that over-mixing could have been the culprit, the cheesecakes may have puffed up at bit too high and sank in a bit, as cheesecakes will do, leaving them a bit brittle.

As for the texture, they didn't have a grainy mouth feel, they just weren't as buttery smooth as the one i had at the restaurant. I asked around at work(bakery) and my fellow employees seem to think it may have been a mass produced, machine made product, frozen and shipped to restaurants. I'm betting they could be right. I think I may have dumped in a bit too much pesto, adding too much moisture to the mix, which wouldn't help matters, especially if i got a bit too mixer happy as well...gonna keep trying to perfect it. I made a few cheesecakes with roasted red peppers and garlic from the same batch, same goofy texture, but as delicious as the pesto cakes

What one food mag should I get?

I've really lost faith in bon appetit and gormet...I love to cook with as extravagant and worldly ingredients as the next passionate foodie but it seems, increasingly more often, that i'm just flipping through either mag, not really seeing much I would really want to cough up my hard-earned cash on to make, let alone go on the goose chase to find the obscure ingredients. Last night i got my monthly bon appetit in the mail...I don't mean to sound narrow-minded, but i don't think i could have rolled my eyes enough when I saw that one recipe called for purple sweet potato vinegar...they mentioned you could buy it on a website at $13 for 4 ounces...Its just frustrating. I truly wish there was a food mag dedicated to the people that don't have gobs of money to drop on pricey ingredients that may only use for one recipe and that love to cook new, exciting dishes that they can actually afford and feel good about making.

ways to prevent anchovy neglect

thank you for your reply Lemons, I did notice that there was an anchovy discussion, after I left my post, oops! I would love the chicken salad recipe. I just signed up yesterday, I'm not sure if I can send a reply directly back to you or if I just leave a note like this with the original post and hope for the best.

Zucchini, I was thinking about anchovy paste, It probably would last a bit longer. I happened to read in a cook book last night that anchovy paste also contains butter and/or cream...two things that could only make it more delicious if you ask me =)

What are you having for dinner tonight?

Day dreaming about decadent french foods laden with butter, just saw julie & Julia a bit ago...but in reality had a lackluster chicken sandwich from schoops...sigh...

What size cast iron dutch oven?

I usually am only cooking for two, but would still recommend getting a 5qt dutch oven, there are so very many uses for a dutch oven and a 5qt affords you so many oppertunities to take advantage of them. I have a martha stuart ceramic coated dutch oven, it has come to be my favorite soup pot.


I just saw j&j a few hours ago. I have to say, in all the times I've gotten truly excited to go see a movie, this was the first time I've been been so thouroughly entertained, expectations marvelously exceeded, and left completely void of disappointments. It was a beautiful movie! It instills such inspiration to a home cook. I wanted to race home and prepare the "beuf bordingnon"(i know, i butchered the spelling) instead of the salisbury steak I promised my husband.

Go see this movie, Its such a joy to watch! I know why star wars finatics get so cult-like about seeing the films repeatedly now, I want to go back and see J&J over and over again. This will be a foodie cult-classic for sure.

Looking for A good book that teaches basic/classic cooking

I'm looking for a good book that would teach me the basics and fundamentals of cooking techniques. Not just how to boil water, but more of the ins and outs of cooking the classics that have stood the test of time. I used to have the professional chef book way back when i was in culinary school(sadly and reluctantly, i had to drop my culinary classes and merely got a certificate in pastry due to money issues...still sad about that) but had to sell it during some rough money times. Should I re-buy that book? Anyone have some suggestions??

You truly do get what you pay for

I do all the cooking at home and do like to cook up some relatively exotic (i.e. more expensive) dishes. I don't have a very big budget, and usually end up spending about 80% of it at the grocery store each week. i just love to cook and am struck with an undeniable desire to whip something up that just popped into my head almost every day. I don't like to plan too far ahead, cooking is much more fun if its spontaneous for me. So, its off to the grocery stores about every other day for me, sometimes every day. I've tried to cut corners here and there to stretch my money further.

Some products I've learned not to skimp on are cheeses...especially parmesan and bleu! And, now, which seems rediculous to me, rice. I was using some walmart brand rice and it was turning out just awful! How could walmart f*** up rice!? I've genrally come to despise the walmart brand anything these days.

I'm learing to splurge on a few pricy ingredients, here and there, like good stock and wine, olive oil, spices, some fancier italian cut pastas, and better cuts of meat, then trying to go a more classic route with my dishes. Meaning learning to roast veggies to give them a lovely nutty taste, braising, more simple pastas with fewer ingredients, and herb oils. Been doing quite a bit with chimmichurri over grilled beef this summer.

Are there any ingredients you splurge on?? Something you can't live without, even if its pricy and feels a bit naughty to buy?

The Sometimes Fabulous food of the young and Broke

I remember the days of being a single girl on her own, having her own place downtown and working like a dog in a restaurant, cooking, prepping, name it, to get the bills paid. I think i maybe had $20 a week to spend on groceries(thankfully soups, salads, and breads were free to employees at the restaurant!) Needless to say, I ate A LOT of ramen and popcorn! Once a week would try to make actual food though.

I used to "splurge" every now and then and make my own version of chicken (i'm about to butcher some spelling folks) caccatori, It was divine for the time being! I would get a cut up whole chicken, 2 jars of tomato pasta sauce, some pearl onions, carrots, mushrooms, and celery, some wine if i had it, and throw it all in a pot and let it simmer for a few hours on low and in the last half hour, throw in a cup of orzo(i was essentually trying to replicate a braised lamb dish i'd had at a greek restaurant in chicago, of lamb shanks braised in tomato sauce with rosa marina). It was the best thing ever! The chicken would be so juicy and fall off the bones, the veggies were rich and sweet, and, best of all, my belly would be full and i would be eating well the following 2 nights.

Anyone else have some favorite foods from the struggling young foodie days?

first time fennel experience...yummmmm

I've always dodged fennel in cooking, fearing its anise flavor. I pretty much have only come to appreciate anise in christmas cookies. I've seen giada on food network blather on and on about how delicious it is, how it doesn't taste licorice-y once cooked, but instead sweet. I made a roasted chicken tonight in which the recipe called for a bulb of fennel (in effort to complete the recipe as written, as it had gotten a myriad of praises)chopped up with carrots and onions for the bird to be nestled in while roasting, i added fresh parsley also. I was leary of the questionable fennel. Once my bird was out of the oven I began to sample the veggies, fennel last, of course...dreading it. If I could kick myself in my butt hard enough for not trying fennel sooner i certainly would! It was amazing! I ended up picking all of the bits of fennel out of the roasting dish before the chicken was even ready to be carved. I also made braised celery, another first time trial. Its was also excellent. It was a pretty flippin' delicious night =)

Food network...try food competetion network

It seems like lately there really aren't any primetime cooking shows left, that are just about cooking...not trying to out-cook someone else, anymore other than good eats. Once 6pm hits its almost all competitions and not really a whole lot else. I don't mind Diners, drive ins, and dives, at least you get to see some dishes you probably never would have on your own. Maybe I just haven't got the competitive spirit. A lot of the time when i'm watching food network during the day I end up wandering into the kitchen and trying to conjure up something similar to what i've just seen because i've been inspired. I wish that was something that carried on into the nighttime hours. Have been watching foodnetwork less and less these days.

having bad luck with brown rice

Each time I've cooked brown rice lately it has turned out an awful, mushy mess. I'm not certain, but I think I may be cooking it on too low a temp(stuck using an electric stove, bleh) for too long. Any pointers? I love the flavor and healthful qualities of brown rice, It's really bumming me out that I just can't seem to get it right.

savory pesto goat cheese cheesecake

I fell madly in love with the basil pesto goat cheese cheesecake at restaurant near my home last came on an antipasti plate with soft french cheeses, salty italian salami slices, baby spinach leaves, walnuts, and a silky balsamic drizzle...sigh, so good! I tried to redproduce the cheesecake at home, using Alton Brown's savory cheesecake recipe, after tinkering with cream cheese to goat cheese ratios( as the AB recipe had no goat cheese in it- I used one third goat cheese). I added few generous tbsp pesto and made a crust from crumbled garlic bagel chips tossed with butter. The flavor was wonderful, extremely close to the restaurant's version....just not as smooth. I'm wondering if my cheese ratio was off or perhaps too much pesto? It definately wasn't over cooked. Any ideas?

ways to prevent anchovy neglect

I often buy a tiny tin of anchovies in oil when I make caesar dressing from scratch...but, in my house, I'm the only one who will use or eat them, my husband detests any form of marine life =( A lot of these little guys go bad in my fridge. Any budget-friendly ideas or recipes for simple dishes I can prepare for myself other than the usual punttanesca sauce???

savory pesto goat cheese cheesecake

I fell madly in love with the basil pesto goat cheese cheesecake at restaurant near my home last came on an antipasti plate with soft french cheeses, salty italian salami slices, baby spinach leaves, walnuts, and a silky balsamic... More