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Showing posts from 2010

Feeling All Grown Up...and a Little Lost in the Real Dot Com Sea, Introducing

Oh boy, what did I get myself into? My lovely web developer husband was kind enough to help me on my next step of the internet blogging yellow brick road and set me up with my very own dot com. I can hardly believe that I got the domain, and the site is up! Of course it is still in progress since I am learning as I this stuff is complex.

Starting something completely new, that I have no mastery of, makes me feel like I ventured out of my little fishbowl for a swim in the ocean. The tide takes me away to another, disorienting, strange and different local that takes some getting used to.

So if you wanna see me baby step toward the next step in my journey, please check out, (oh my gosh, there is no Blogspot behind that, woo-hoo!) and let me know what you think!


4RFood Posting Updates

Hello out there! Working on my new blog 4RFood, and really enjoying it. Finally having some organization and a format to work makes me feel like my head is finally screwed on tight (for now at least...). For those of you who follow this blog, I would love you to come on over and become a follower on 4RFood!

Here are some links to the articles this week. Click on the links to get there directly. There is a Revelation about Pam Anderson, a Review of Trader Joe's pre-made pie dough, and a Rant on beige food and cavemen (troglodytes).

Again, thanks for checking it out!!!


My Confessional, A New Direction 4RFood

Hello to all the wonderful people who take time to read this blog. I must take a moment to express my appreciation to you - thank you for your support, encouragement, for everything. In the time I have been writing this blog, I have learned so much, and you have been a big part of my growth as a writer, cook, and person.

But you know, there are just so many amazing food bloggers out there. Ones that take amazing pictures that make your eyes drool, post recipes every day that inspire cooking and baking, people who do that so much better than I do.

For example: Grace's Sweet Life, La Mia Vita Dolce, look at those homemade baby donuts. Please, if this picture doesn't make you want a little pink-iced sprinkled mini donut, get your eyes checked.

Or this chick, Bellalimento, who makes the most amazing authentic Italian fare and takes pics that make you want to jump into the computer and eat. 

I got to thinking that I am trying to fit into a shoe that doesn't fit me very well. I h…

Beware of Trader Joe's Imported Penne Pasta - Stow-Aways on Board

Prepare to be grossed out - yes, I know Halloween is over. This is serious. I do this for public health reasons, and because it made me want to swear off pasta and Trader Joe's for a long long long time. Doesn't that suck? Yes, yes it does.

A few days ago I made a sauce for pasta and grabbed the package of Trader Joe's Imported form Italy Penne. The water had not boiled yet, so I put down the package and then I noticed something moving. Black and moving. Lots of black and moving and some dead, black and not moving.

The completely sealed pasta bag crawled with who knows what kind of little black bugs (see picture below and fill me in if you know), made me lose my appetite. I got out my camera and shot these pictures, but the pre-flash made many of them hide (guess they don't like bright light).
I am sooo thankful that I hadn't just opened the package and poured the contents into the boiling water - how many times had I done that...not looked at pasta before pouring…

The Best, Most Versatile, Biscotti Recipe - FINALLY!

About a million and two years ago, I told you I would post my favorite biscotti recipe, and I am finally making good on that promise! This recipe is sooooooo versitile, you can put any kind of nut (though I suggest chopping them up first), any kind of extract, dried fruits, chocolate chips, pretty much anything, and they will come out amazing. Now go be creative! 

Ingredients: 3 eggs 1 cup of canola oil 1 cup of sugar 3 cups flour 3 teaspoons baking powder 2 tablespoons vanilla extract 2 tablespoons almond extract 1 cup slivered, blanched almonds 1 cup dark chocolate chips. (option: omit the chocolate chips, and add melted chocolate to the bottoms of biscotti after baking)

Process: 1.Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 2.Beat the eggs, oil, and sugar in a Kitchen Aid stand mixer until well mixed and creamy looking. 3.Add the extracts and mix until incorporated. 4.In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder, then add to the wet ingredient…

The Iron Foodie of 2010 - Coming Straight on for YOU!

Marx Foods and the Foodie BlogRoll are hosting a fabulous contest - Iron Foodie 2010. Let's put it this way, I can't think of a cooler moniker than being called an Iron Foodie. I am in!

Why do you want to compete in this challenge?
I love a good challenge, and a food related one takes the cake. The title of Iron Foodie 2010 alone is well worth giving it a go, but I also want to challenge myself to be creative and share my creations with the readers of Owl Cook. 

Limitations of time/space notwithstanding, whose kitchen would you like to spend the day in and why? Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Ferran Adria, James Beard, Marie-Antoine Careme, or The Swedish Chef?
Julia Child and the Swedish chef have the best chef voices of all time. It would be awesome to see them try to communicate with each other, wouldn't it? If I had to pick a chef to cook with, I would pick James Beard hands down. He was unapologetic in his personal life and career - I love that confidence and would want some …

After Picture of the 321 Pizza that Started with Raw Sausage

AS requested, here is a picture of a 321 Pizza baked off with sausage in the raw.  You can see how gorgeous the little morsels brown up :) This pizza also has roasted red bell peppers, capers and mozzarella cheese.

Where do you Find Good Ideas for Kids Party Foods?

Google 'Kids Party Food' and what a pathetic lump of links come up. Where are the adorable ideas? The fruit critters? The irresistible hidden veggie something-or-other? I am planning my four year old's birthday party this weekend and want to make things little eyes will be excited to see. One site suggested chicken nuggets. Originality award goes to you my friend! Kids like chicken nuggets? They like pizza? The revelations keep on coming.

Some suggestions go the completely opposite route and suggest celery with avocado dip in place of chips. Yeah right.

I finally found one with promise, Menu in a Box, but to access the recipes for the super cute food, membership is required. I don't blame them - I am getting to the point where I may just join to get some new ideas.

Cool Cereal - Some Vintage Stuff...Who Ate Gremlins Cereal??

Who doesn't love a good bowl of cereal? We all have our favorite, right? Remember the one you always wanted your mom or dad to buy you, but didn't (Count Chocula!!!)? Here are some fun, REAL, cereals from the past:

For more cereal fun check out The Cereal Project. They are attempting to catalogue every cereal America every cereal we were crazy enough to buy in America. Oh, and the Star Trek Cereal debuted in.....2009!

Mmmmm...Cookies. I like you better though!

My Mother in Law Lia's Italian Crostata- The Experience of Intuitive Baking

Let's start out with the fact that I have never ever, ever, ever (did I say ever?) seen my mother-in-law follow written, cookbook style recipes. Lia cooks intuitively, she has recipes in her head - who needs a cookbook when you've got recipes in your head?

Her mother single handedly ran a restaurant in her hometown between Rome and the Mediterranean sea, her father expertly butchered all the meat and later performed classical guitar with the house band for the customers. 
Italian's have a birthright of food - a heritage of recipes that get passed down over and over because everyone helps in the kitchen, everyone sees how mama makes risotto, or zeppole, or a ragu. 
Fast forward to about a year ago when I asked Lia how to make her son's favorite Italian dessert, the crostata, a tart-pie hybrid with a pastry crust and a jam filling. She willingly gave me the recipe from her head, but I could tell it wasn't easy for her. 
The recipe depended on the way the dough looked, ho…

Funny, Scary or Gross?

Pizza Balls - Ashley's Experience

Can you tell I am proud?? Here is a photo and email excerpt from Ashley Hamrick's recent email to me. On her last visit with me, I told her how to make pizza balls from the 321 Dough recipe. Here is what she said:

"I made more 321 dough today and, on the request of my teenaged-appetite husband, I stuffed the pizza pocket with more "stuff", this time making pepperoni pizza pockets... I thought I'd share this photo with you both. I ate a half of one and it was just like eating a piece of pepperoni pizza (I used only the fines ingredients -- oven-roasted farmers market  tomatoes from the oven, top-quality pepperoni and italian mozz. chz.). So amazing, gooey, and delicious!! And what a perfect thing to serve to a hungry beast! Thanks, Linds! Haven't tried the pizza yet, but that's next this week."

321 Dough - Multi-Purpose Recipe, Repost of Recipe

For anyone who is interested in my 321 Super Secret Dough, here is the recipe. I hope you all try it! It only has six simple ingredients and takes minutes to make. This dough can be transformed into homemade pizza, rustic artisan-style bread, crispy breadsticks, savory flatbread, mini calzones (pizza balls), and much more. Even better, it can be made days in advance and kept covered in the fridge to be used at a later date. I call it the 321 recipe because it has 3 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of yeast, sugar and salt, and 1 2/3 cups of water. 

• 3 Cups AP Flour
• 2 Teaspoons Yeast
• 2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
• 2 Teaspoons Sugar
• 1 2/3 Cups Lukewarm Purified Water

1. Place the flours, yeast, salt, and sugar in a large bowl and mix with a fork until ingredients are evenly distributed.
2. Add the water and stir with a spoon until flour mixture is evenly wet (about a minute). Cover with a clean dishtowel and let sit for about 2 hours in a draft free area.
3. You can use the dough at this point, or …

Two Cool Vending Machines from Around the World...Pizza Machine!?! Eggs?!?

Who knows what kind of quality you get from this pizza vending machine from Italy, but in my book it is so cool, that it doesn't matter. You pick the toppings and in three minutes a pizza, made from scratch, pops out, and you get to see the whole process through the little window. Love this!

Yes, this is an EGG vending machine! The farm fresh egg machine can be found in Japan, but also in Santa Cruz, Ca. Not sure what I think of this one, but I think I like it...
What do you think??

Easy, yet Fabulous Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

Cream cheese frosting (just typing that out gets my taste buds tingling) makes even the humblest of cakes delectable. I mean, really who thought "Yes, carrots would make a delicious cake base!" Probably someone  with a very wonderful recipe for cream cheese frosting. Carrot cake ranks up among my all time favorites, and most likely because of it's stellar ability to take a back seat to the frosting of the gods.

I have to credit the lovely Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman, for this recipe which has become my go-to recipe for carrot cake. Why? Oh that is easy, because it is EASY. And fabulous, but mostly because of the easy.

IngredientsFOR CAKE:2 cups Sugar1 cup Vegetable Oil4 whole Eggs2 cups All-purpose Flour½ teaspoons Salt1 teaspoon Baking Soda1 teaspoon Baking Powder1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

Ode to Coffee, Something I Never Thought I Would Love SO Much

The signs have clearly been there - my favorite ice cream flavor since childhood: Coffee (even better yet with toffee crunch pockets hidden inside), but until relatively recently I have not been a coffee drinker (babies and the lack of sleep that come with them helped the coffee gods lure me in). I passed up numerous perfectly made Italian espressi with gorgeous deep caramel colored crema rising to the top (anyone have a time machine?), but now the day hasn't begun until the espresso machine does. 

Homemade Bread, My Top Tips, Part 2 - Pizza Dough

Whoa, This Stuff is GOOD. Highly Recommended: Celebrity International Cranberry with Cinnamon Fromage De Chevre

Over the weekend, Costco had a cheese sample extravaganza. Showing off, among other cheese, white cheddar bombs, huge wheels of golden Parmigiano Reggiano, and the most gorgeous soft white cheese encrusted and streaked with magenta cranberries spread on La Brea baguettes. We ended up buying both the white cheddar (which tasted like very young parmigiano) and of course the lovely cranberry and cinnamon fromage de chevre (which sounds sooo much better than goat cheese, right?)
Somehow Celebrity International played down the usual twang of goat cheese, maybe with the plump cranberries that encase it, and made this somewhat unusual, but delightful creation. 
EVEN if you think you would not like goat cheese fromage de chevre, I urge you to give this a try. Trust me, I never thought I would have liked this so much if I hadn't been wooed by the siren song of a free Costco sample (who can resist?). 
It would make a gorgeous appetizer for a fall dinner or even on a Thanksgiving pre-dinner che…

Homemade Bread, My Top Tips, Part 1 - Foccacia

I have learned a thing or two about home bread making, both through glorious successes and horrific disasters. If you don't regularly make bread at home, you should try it sometime (see my 321 Dough post for a very easy and forgiving recipe, or my foccacia recipe which loves time to itself).  
Let the tips begin!
Part 2 - Pizza Dough

The BEST Banana Bread Recipe, EVER.

I have been eating and making banana bread longer than I can remember. Don't you just love the way baking banana bread perfumes the entire house? When the weather chills up and the bananas get their leopard spots, grab a bowl, a fork and spoon, then make this banana bread. This recipe doubles beautifully (I always double my recipe and make it in a sheet cake pan), can take any kind of add-ins like nuts, blueberries, or chocolate chips, and couldn't be easier. 
With this particular recipe, I won first place in the banana bread division at the Del Mar Fair by adding macadamia nuts to the mix. 
Best Banana Bread:
You will need two bowls, a fork and a spoon to mix. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and spray your baking pan with cooking spray.
IN the larger bowl combine the following:
1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda  1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup white sugar
In another bowl, mash 3 bananas and add them to the flour mixture. 
Crack two eggs into the banana dish and beat them until…

The Unusual International McDonald's Foods that DON'T Need to Come Over

So here are a few, ahem, *unusual* international McDonald's choices that, in my opinion, they can keep. These are from Asia:
For more check out Food Network Humor

McDonald's Food from Around the World, the Good Stuff

Growing up, nothing topped a trip to McDonald's for me. The colorful kids only playground, the delightfully fatty happy meal (no ONIONS on the burger though), the special toy (anyone remember the muppet babies toys??), the little swirly free kids cone, and of course the man himself, Mr. Ronald McDonald.

I loved him more than Mickey Mouse and every other kid's character put together (maybe even more than Santa). I even had a Ronald McDonald doll that blew a whistle, which now sells for $199 on Amazon, and in retrospect looks a little creepy.

Ronald used to show up in person at the Del Mar Fair to do magic tricks, he giggle-smiled through every kid directed commercial (I saw A LOT of those), he just made me sooo happy. Happy meals really did make me...happy.

My love for McDonald's waned, however, as my taste buds and I grew up. Now, as a mom, I have taken my kids to McDonald's for ice cream (which has always been good, though who knows what is in that soft-serve mix), a…