Sunday, April 17, 2011

100 Greatest...

...Cooking Tips (of all time!)
**From Food Network Magazine**

  1. Remember, ya'll, it's all about the prep. Take away the stress be doing the prep the night or day before. You'll look like a star. -Paula Deen
  2. The smaller the item, the higher the baking temperature. For example, I bake mini chocolate chip-toffee cookies at 500 F. for only 4 minutes. Perfect end result. -Jim Lahey
  3. Store spices in a cool, dark place, not above your stover. Humidity, light and heat will cause herbs and spices to lose their flavor. -Rick Tramonto
  4. Use a corse Microplane to shave vegetables into salads or vinaigrettes. You can create an orange-fennel dressing by adding grated fennel and orange zest to a simple vinaigrette. -Paul Kahan
  5. Always make stock in a large quantity and freeze in plastic bags. That way, when you want to make a nice soup or boil veggies, you can pull the bag out of the freezer. - Charlie Trotter
  6. If you're cooking for someone important - whether it's your boss or a date - never try a new recipe and a new ingredient at the same time. -Marcus Samuelsson
  7. Cook pasta 1 minute less than the package instructions and cook it the rest of the way in the pan with sauce! -Mario Batali
  8. After making eggs sunny-side up, deglaze the pan with sherry vinegar, then drizzle the sauce on the eggs to add another dimension to the dish. -Didier Elena
  9. After working with garlic, rub your hands vigorously on your stainless steal sink for 30 seconds before washing them. It will remove the odor. -Gerard Craft
  10. Brine, baby, brine! Ya gotta brine that poultry ta really give it the super flavor! -Guy Fieri
  11. Remember schmaltz? Your mom and grandmother probably used a lot of it in their home cooking. Schmaltz, or chicken fat, has a great flavor and richness; it has a deeper flavor than duck fat and can be used on nearly everything. I also love poaching fish in it. -Ton Maws
  12. If you find you need more oil in the pan when sauteing, add it in a stream along the edges of the pan so that by the time the oil reaches the ingredient being cooked, it will be heated. -Anita Lo
  13. When you deep-fry, hold each piece of food with long tongs as you add it to the oil. Hold it just below the oil's surface for five seconds before releasing it. This will seal the exterior and stop it from sticking to the pot or the other food. -Michael Psilakis
  14. For rich, creamy dressings made healthy, substitute 1/2 the mayo with Greek-style yogurt. -Ellie Krieger
  15. When chopping herbs, toss a little salt onto the cutting board; it will keep the herbs from flying around. -Joanne Chang
  16. To make a great sandwich, spread the mayonnaise from corner to corner on the bread. People rush this step and just to a swoosh down the middle. Every bite should be flavorful. Now that's a sandwich! -Roy Choi
  17. If you keep it simple and buy ingredients at farmers' markets, the food can pretty much take care of itself. Do as little as possible to the food; consider leaving out an ingredient and relying on instinct. -Tony Mantuano
  18. Always season meat and fish evenly; sprinkle salt and pepper as though its "snowing". This will avoid clumping or ending up with too much seasoning in some areas an none in others. -Mary Dumont
  19. For best results when you're baking, leave butter and eggs at room temp overnight. -Ina Garten
  20. Homemade vinaigrettes have fewer ingredients and taste better than bottled ones. No need to whisk them: Just put all the ingredients in a sealed container and shake -Bill Telepan
  21. For an easy weeknight meal, freeze leftover sauces from previous meals in ice cube trays. The cubes can be reheated in a saute pan when you need a quick sauce. -David Burke
  22. When making meatballs or meatloaf, you need to know how the mixture tastes before you cook it: make a little patty and fry it in a pan like a mini hamburger. Then you can taste it and adjust the seasoning. -Isaac Becker
  23. Instead of placing a chicken on a roasting rack, cut thick slices of onion, put them in an oiled pan, then place the chicken on top. The onion will absorb the chicken juices. After roasting, let the chicken rest while you make a sauce with the onions by adding a little stock or water to the pan and cooking it for about 3 minutes on high heat. -Donald Link
  24. Low and Slow. -Pat Neely
  25. After cutting corn off the cob, use the back of a knife (not the blade side) to scrape the cob again to extract the sweet milk left behind. This milk adds flavor and body to any corn dish. -Kerry Simon
  26. Acidity, salt and horseradish bring out full flavors in food. -Michael Symon
  27. Take the time to actually read recipes through before you begin. -John Besh
  28. Organize yourself. Write a prep list and break that list down into what may seem like ridiculously small parcels, like "grate cheese" and "grind pepper" and "pull out plates". You will see that a "simple meal" actually has more than 40 steps. If even 10 of those steps require 10 minutes each and another 10 of those steps take 5 minutes each, you're going to need two and a half hours of prep time. (And that doesn't include phone calls, bathroom breaks and changing the radio station!) Write down the steps and then cross them off. It's very satisfying! -Gabrielle Hamilton
  29. Recipes are only a guideline, not the Bible. Feel comfortable replacing ingredients with similar ingredients that you like. If you like oregano but not thyme, use oregano. -Alex Seidel
  30. A braised or slow-roasted whole beef roast or pork shoulder can be made into several dishes and sandwiches all week. -Elizabeth Falkner
  31. Taste as you go! -Anne Burrell
  32. Anytime you are using raw onions in a salsa and you are not going to eat that salsa in the next 20 minutes or so, be sure to rinse the diced onions under cold water first, then blot dry. This will rid them of sulfurous gas that can ruin fresh salsa. It's really important in guacamole, too. -Mark Miller
  33. Do not use oil in the water when boiling pasta: It will keep the sauce from sticking to the cooked pasta. -Missy Robbins
  34. For safety, put a wine cork on the tip of a knife before putting the knife in a drawer. -Giuseppe Tentori
  35. When you're going to saute garlic, slice it rather than mincing it - it's less likely to burn that way. -Aarti Sequeira
  36. When you're browning meat, you should blot the surface dry with a paper towel so the meat doesn't release moisture when it hits the hot oil. Too much moisture makes the meat steam instead of sear, and you will lose that rich brown crust. -Charlie Palmer
  37. To cut pancetta or bacon into lardons, put in the freezer for 15 minutes. This will firm up the meat and make it easier to cut. -Chris Cosentino
  38. A cast-iron pan is a valuable kitchen ally. It offers an even cooking surface and is a breeze to clean. -Linton Hopkins
  39. Smash garlic cloves inside a re-sealable plastic bag with the back of a knife. That way, your cutting board and knife won't smell. -Laurent Tourondel
  40. To get nice, crispy caramelization on roasted vegetables, simulate the intense heat of an industrial oven: Bring your oven up as high as it goes, then put an empty roasting or sheet pan inside for 10 to 15 minutes. Toss the vegetables - try carrots or Brussels sprouts - with olive oil, salt and pepper, and put them on the hot pan. This method will give you the high heat you need to caramelize the sugars in the vegetables quickly. -Naomi Pomeroy
  41. Invest in a bottle of high-quality olive oil. Just a small drizzle can really bring out the flavor of pizza, mozzarella, pasta, fish and meat. -Nancy Silverton
  42. Marinating meat with citrus can give it a mealy texture. If you like citrus, a little squeeze of lemon or lime is always a good way to finish the dish instead. -Tim Love
  43. Add cheese rinds to vegetable of meat broths for another dimension of flavor. -Paul Virant
  44. When seasoning a salad, use coarse sea salt mixed with a little olive oil. It will stay crunchy when combined with the vinaigrette. -Paul Liebrandt
  45. Always use sharp knives. Not only is it safer but it will make your work much more efficient. -April Bloomfield
  46. Rest. Rest. Rest! Always let your meat rest - especially off a hot grill. -Melissa d'Arabian
  47. Plunge vegetables in ice water after blanching (boiling) them so they maintain a bright color. -Maria Hines
  48. Invest in parchment paper for lining pans. It makes all of your baked goods super easy to remove, and it makes cleanup a dream (no butter-flour mixture or errant batter to scrape off). -Matt Lewis
  49. My grandfather taught me this tip: After you drain pasta, while it's still hot, grate fresh Parmesan on top before tossing it with your sauce. This way, the sauce has something to stick to. -Giafa De Laurentiis
  50. Don't overcrowd the pan when you're sauteing - it'll make your food steam instead. -Ryan Poli
  51. When you roast a whole chicken, the breasts always overcooks and dries out because the legs have to cook longer. This is a really simple way to keep a chicken breast moist: Separate the breast and the leg. Season as you normally would and roast as you normally would, but remove the breast sooner than the leg. -Tim Cushman
  52. Buy fruit at its peak at a farmers' market and freeze it in an airtight container so you can enjoy it year-round! -Mindy Segal
  53. Fresh basil keeps much better at room temperature with the stems in water. -Elisabeth Prueitt
  54. Season all of your food from start to finish. Seasoning in stages brings the most out of your ingredients and gives you the most flavor. -Jose Garces
  55. To cook a steak, I always start by cooking it on its side, where there is a rim of fat on its narrow edge. I render it down so there's good, flavorful fat in the pan for the rest of the cooking. -Alain Ducasse
  56. Taste what you make before you serve it. I'm amazed that people will follow a recipe but not taste the dish to see if it needs more salt, pepper or spices. -Brad Farmerie
  57. Season fish simply and cook it with respect. The flavor of the fish is what you want. When it comes off the grill or out of the oven or pan, finish it with a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Always. There is something about lemon juice and fish that is heavenly. -Rick Moonen
  58. If you're cooking cauliflower, add a bit of milk to the water with salt to keep the cauliflower bright white. Shock it in cold water to stop the cooking and then serve. -Michael White
  59. When grinding your own beef for burgers, grind in some bacon. -Sean Brock
  60. Don't go tot he store with a shopping list. Go to the store, see what ingredients look good and then make your list! -Alex Guarnaschelli
  61. When making mashed potatoes, after you drain the potatoes, return them to the hot pan, cover tightly and let steam for 5 minutes. This allows the potatoes to dry out so they'll mash to a beautiful texture and soak up the butter and cream more easily. -Wolfgang Puck
  62. If you want to make a proper Louisiana Style Roux that's chocolate in color, rich in flavor, remember slow and low is the way to go. -Emeril Lagasse
  63. For better tasting asparagus, cure the stalks: Peel them, roll in equal parts sugar and salt, and let sit for 10 minutes, then rinse off and prepare as desired. -Shea Gallante
  64. When you grill, pull your steaks out of the refrigerator on hour ahead of time so they can come to room temperature. -Geoffrey Zakarian
  65. Always measure what you're baking. No shortcuts in pastry: It's a science. -Francois Payard
  66. When using fresh herbs such as cilantro or parsley, add whole stems to salads and sandwiches, and chop and stir leaves into salsas and guacamole. -Aaron Sanchez
  67. If you don't have time to brine your chicken, use this simple trick: Heavily salt the chicken (inside and out) about an hour before you cook it. Then pat it dry and roast. This ensures crispy skin and juicy meat. -David Myers
  68. When made properly, risotto's richness comes from the starchy rice and the stock. As the risotto cooks, stir it with a wooden spoon in rhythmic movements that go across the bottom and around the sides of the pan. The rice should constantly be bubbling, drinking up the liquid as it cooks. -Suzanne Goin
  69. Use a cake tester to test the doneness of fish, meat and vegetables. It's my secret weapon - I use it in the kitchen to test everything. -Daniel Humm
  70. Serving cake: 1) Serve at room temperature. 2) Don't "pre-slice" cake more than 20 minutes in advance. It dries out too quick. 3) You don't have to eat the fondant! It's really pretty, but if you don't want a mouthful of sugar, peel it off! 4) The best cake comes from Baltimore. Just sayin'. -Duff Goldman
  71. To optimize the juice you get from a lemon or lime, roll it hard under your palm for a minute before juicing. (Or - never say I told you this - microwave it for 10 to 15 seconds.) -Patricia Yeo
  72. For perfect vegetable soup, start with diced carrots, onions, peppers and tomatoes sauteed in oil or butter before you add any liquid. This brings out the taste and caramelizes the sugars. -Shaun Hergatt
  73. Have your mise en place ready: Do all of your cutting of vegetables and meat and make your sauces before you start cooking. -Richard Sandoval
  74. Try smoked fleur de sel: Use it sparingly to finish a dish and bring another layer of flavor. -Michael Schwartz
  75. Clean as you go. (Dorky - but I swear, it really helps.) -Rick Bayless
  76. Shoes off, music on, favorite beverage in hand...Enjoy your time in the kitchen! -Claire Robinson
  77. Always buy the freshest garlic you can find, the fresher it is, the sweeter it will be. The best garlic has firm tissue-like skin and should not be bruised, sprouted, soft or shriveled. If you find cloves that have green shoots, discard the shoots; they will only add bitterness. -Todd English
  78. Keep flavored vinegars near the stove so you won't always reach for the salt. Acid enhances flavor. -Art Smith
  79. Don't be too hard on yourself...Mistakes make some of the best recipes. Keep it simple! -Sunny Anderson
  80. Fry eggs that Spanish way: Get a good quantity of olive oil hot. Before you add the egg, heat the spatula (if it's metal) in the oil first. That way the egg wont stick to it. Add the egg and fry it quickly, until it gets "puntillitas", or slightly browned edges. -Jose Andres
  81. Prolong the lifespan of greens by wrapping them loosely in a damp paper towel and placing in a resealable plastic bag. That local arugula will last about four days longer. -Hugh Acheson
  82. Want to know if your oil is hot enough for frying? Here's a tip: Stick a wooden skewer or spoon in the oil. If bubbles form around the wood, then you are good to go. -Aaron McCargo Jr. 
  83. When a recipe calls for zest, instead of grating it into a separate container or onto parchment paper, hold the zester over the mixing bowl and zest directly onto the butter or cream. The aromatic citrus oils that are sprayed into the bowl will give the dessert a zesty finish. -Pichet Ong
  84. Use good oil when cooking. Smell and taste it: If it doesn't taste good alone, it won't taste good in your food. -Michelle Bernstein
  85. Cook with other people who want to learn or who know how to cook. -Laurent Gras
  86. Cook more often. Don't study; just cook. -Masaharu Morimoto
  87. Make sure the handle of your saute pan is turned away from you so you don't hit it and knock it off the stove. It happens all the time. -Jonathan Waxman
  88. Don't dress the salad when having a big party. Leave it on the side and let the people do it themselves. I've had to many soggy salads because of this. -Marc Forgione
  89. For crispy fish skin, rest the fish on paper towels skin-side down for a few minutes before cooking (the towels absorb moisture). Then saute skin-side down over medium heat in oil and butter. Flip over for the last few minutes of cooking. -Govind Armstrong
  90. When cooking eggplant, I like to use the long skinny purple Japanese kind because you don't have to slat it to pull out the bitter liquid like you do with the larger Italian variety. -Andrew Carmellini
  91. Caramelize onions very quickly by cooking them in a dry non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat. They will caramelize beautifully in a lot less time than with traditional methods. -Michael Mina
  92. To help keep an onion together while dicing, do not remove the root. -Jean-Robert de Cavel
  93. Whenever you cook pasta, remove some of the pasta-cooking water (about 1/4 or 1/3 cup) just before draining. When you add the sauce of your choice to the pasta, add a little of the cooking liquid: This helps the sauce to amalgamate; the starch in the water adds body and a kind of creaminess. An old Italian friend of mine instructed me in this finishing touch early on, and I would never, ever leave it out. It makes all the difference. -Nigella Lawson
  94. Making the best ceviche is simple: Use freshly squeezed lime juice and glistening fresh fish. -Douglas Rodriguez
  95. When making caramel, use a nonsitck pot. That way when you pour the mixture out, there is no waste, and cleaning the pot is a breeze. -Jehangir Mahta
  96. Don't be afraid to ask the butcher or fishmonger to see the products up close and to smell for freshness. Fish should never smell fishy. -Eric Ripert
  97. Always start with a smokin' hot pan! -Cat Cora
  98. When baking cookies, be sure your dough is thoroughly chilled when it goes on your baking pan. This will allow the leavening ingredients to work before the butter flattens out and your cookies lose their textural distinctions. -Norman Van Aken
  99. My general advice to home cooks is that if you think you have added enough salt, double it. -Grant Achatz
  100. Reduce the heat of chiles by removing the seeds. My method is making four straight cuts down the sides. This will create four long slivers, and the cluster of seeds will remain in the center of the chile. The result will be less heat and more great flavor! -Dean Fearing
Phew! Did ya get through all that!

The ones that are BOLD and ones that I stand by, or that I would like to try or need to change. 

I hope you find this some interesting reads! I sure did!


Friday, April 15, 2011

Trying a new fruit....


So, wanting to try something new and exciting for dinner, I stumbled upon a recipe for Pomegranate-Ginger Glazed Pork. I asked the Hubby if he likes pomegranate seeds...he said not really, but he likes the flavor of pomegranates. So, with a slight alteration, I made the glazed pork minus the pomegranate seeds!

~Pomegranate-Ginger Glazed Pork~
(Adapted from We Are Not Martha)
8 oz. POM Wonderful Juice
1 c. sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. red pepper flakes
6 tbsp. soy sauce
6 tsp. ground ginger*
6 tsp. garlic, minced
2 lbs. boneless pork chops (about 6 chops)

In a med pot, over med-high heat combine the POM Juice, sugar, cornstarch, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Simmer over med heat until a thick syrup forms, about 10 min. Stir every now and then to make sure it does not burn. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. Stir to combine and set aside. In a large frying pan, add a touch of olive oil, and bring to med heat. Place 3 pork chops in the pan and top with a spoonful of the soy sauce-ginger-garlic mixture. Cook for 4 min. and then flip and repeat with another spoonful of the soy sauce mixture. Cook for another 4 min. or until cooked through and remove from pan. Repeat this process with the remaining 3 pork chops and the remaining soy sauce mixture. In the same pan you cooked the pork chops in, turn off the heat and add the POMegranate syrup. Stir the mixture to incorporate all the pork bits and thicken it a bit. Add the pork chops back into the pan and coat with the mixture. Plate the pork chops with a generous amount of the syrup. Serve immediately! 

*You can also used fresh mined ginger as well. Ground is what I had on hand.

You can also chop and see a pomegranate and top the pork chops with the seeds before serving.

This meal was very very yummy. The sauce was sweet at first, but then there was a subtle heat from the red pepper flakes. It was not spicy by any means, but the heat was very pleasant and subsided after a while. The pomegranate flavor was not over powering either, so if you are not a huge pomegranate fan, you might like this recipe anyway!

I served this meal with some cooked broccoli. The sauce ended up mixing with the broccoli and made it taste quite good! It now pulls double duty for both meat and veggies. I will be making this sauce again soon! I would like to try it on some chicken breasts next...


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Super Easy Fish

Here is a meal that I just was super easy, and super tasty....just thought ya'll should know!

~Herbed crusted Flounder~
1 pkg. flounder (about 4-5 fillets)
1 1/2 c. panko bread crums
2 tbsp. parsley
2 tbsp. dill
6 tbsp. melted butter
Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking pan with foil and spray with no-stick spray. Place the flounder on the baking sheet and salt and pepper each side. Combine the panko, parsley, and dill in a small bowl. Add the melted butter and stir to combine. Pat the panko-butter mixture onto the flounder. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 20 min or so, until the fish is light and flakey. Remove and let cool. Serve with a wedge of lemon. 


Friday, February 25, 2011

A Little Bit About: Sake

Here is a little post that I found on Serious Eats. It is about proper Sake drinking. I decided to compile this post and some other information that I have gathered, into one informative post about SAKE!!

So, here goes:

A Little Bit About: Sake

Juyondai - fruity and fragrant
Isojiman - rich
Kubota - light and dry
Koshi no Kanbai - light and dry
Michizakari - full and dry
Kikusui - light and dry
Hakkaizan - slightly full and fry
Urakasumi - balanced
Koro - fruity and fragrant
Kokuryu - earthy and rich
Denshu - rice-laden and rich
(From Sake-World)

The best glassware for drinking Sake is actually a wine glass. No need for the fancy little Sake cups that are abundant in Japanese shops. A wine glass that is already in your pantry is even better! Why is a wine glass better? Because it gives the Sake room to release its aroma. Once it is poured, you should check out the Sake's color. It should be clear, but it may have some pale yellow or even greenish hues. Once the color turns brown, or tan, its past its prime. It should also be free of floating debris, unless it is a specific type (nigori) which is meant to be cloudy.

After the Sake is poured and the color is inspected, give it a few swirls in the glass and take a whiff. You should look out for fruity, floral, and earthy scents. If you smell burnt or musty in your Sake, it has gone bad. Some Sake (rustic) has smoky and rice-centric aromas while others (unpasteurized) are more fruity and fresh. There are 3 different aroma stages in drinking Sake. The first is "uwadachi-ka" or "initial smell" (fruity) which is what you smell before tasting. The second is "fukumi-ka" or "new fragrances" (bitterness) which are the smells that you breathe in while sipping. Last is "modori-ka" or "finish" (peppery) which are the more subtle smells present after sipping.

The flavor of the Sake should match the aromas. For example, if you smell a mushroom-esque aroma, it should taste earthy. Bad Sake has a sour taste. There are also varying degrees of sweetness present in different types of Sake, as well as Sake's that are more dry on the palate. The texture of the Sake should be light, but there are some that are richer and pack a more powerful punch.

Temperature is a great element to play with while drinking Sake. Start drinking it straight out of the fridge, then slowly sip it every now and then while it comes to room temperature. Pay attention to the flavors and aromas, and how they change. More earthy and richer Sake's tend to stand out more at room temperature, while more fruity ones are better when slightly chilled.

There are some important customs that surround Sake as well. When drinking sake, you should not fill your own cup or glass. It is polite to fill someone else's glass and then they, in turn, fill yours. It is also rude to turn down an initial offering of Sake, if it is offered again, it is now acceptable to say no thank you.

What I learned is that Sake drinking is very similar to wine. There are similar aspects in the the way and process of drinking, like swirling and sniffing, and sipping and temperature. There also variations in flavor depending on the region where the Sake was made, and the rice that was used. Same as with wine and the type of grapes used.

I found all this very interesting and cannot wait to taste my way through some sake in the near future! When I do, I will keep you posted!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Toy

So, I have been seeing so many Hipstamatic photos all over Facebook now-a-days. I wanted to replicated that with just as much I downloaded the Poladroid App for Macs. Its pretty cool. Its basic, no fun lenses or effects, just a simple photo like what an old Polaroid would take.

Oh yeah, it makes that oh-so-cool developing sound too!

Here are some samples:


Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Sorry to all my readers for the prolonged absence! I have been shifting my focus from project to project that has been going on in my life right now. I am having an issue deciding on what blogs I want to focus on. I have come to the realization that I can handle a few, if they are managed in an effective way though out the week.

I also missed having a place to share really random things. This was that place. I am calling it my online journal. It is where I can share anything! Crafts, recipes, music, pictures...etc. I need this outlet!

I have been doing a lot! Just not sharing it quite as much. I have not made a lot of new recipes because the hubby and I tried this new Whole 9 30-day Challenge/Paleo diet. It was more for him than me...but there were benefits of it that I liked. It is basically a diet focused on meat, veggies, fruit, and fat. You don't eat anything unnatural, processed, dairy, sugar, and made of corn or HFCS, etc. So it was very basic, but challenging!

I liked that we were not eating pre-processed foods, everything is natural. We at many eggs, bacon, apples, broccoli, chicken, pork, beef, and some seafood. It was a challenge as well! I made my first homemade mayo, and some BBQ sauce. They are both works in progress, but it has really opened my eyes to new ways of making things. Even if there is a little more work involved, it is worth it, just to say I tried!

I have been exploring the island as well! We went to a Dam, a Castle, a really dirty park, and a gorgeous rugged rock cape lookout. I am currently taking a cake decorating class, provided by Wilton, at the local craft store, and I look forward to taking the next lesson in Fondant and Gum paste.

That leads me to my next love! I have started a from-home baking business. It is called Sarah's Sweets & Treats. I do cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and some special requests. It has been a struggle getting my name out there. There are outlets that I cannot use and those that would not be wise to use due to some shady people and what not. So things are a little slow, but I am sure it will progress with time! I have hope! I just need to build my skills (hence the class  :-)

My photography is also getting a work out! After getting my AWESOME camera form my Hubby for X-mas, I have been using it to photograph various things! But, I need to get caught up on my editing, which is proving to be a challenge...I need a place where I can sit for a few hours and work...i am not inspired (or maybe more distracted) at home...I have a few projects that I would like to get printed out and displayed. SOON!

But anywho, just wanted to post a little update! And, no worries, I will be back very soon and on a regular basis!

A lemon cake with lemon glaze

One of the cookies I made in class

A german chocolate cake I made for a friend's husband's birthday

Heart with sprinkles (from cake class) for Valentines Day. I brought this into Hubby's work for the guys to eat!

A glimpse at one of the projects I would like to start....


Tuesday, January 18, 2011


My priorities are shifting.

I am writing to inform my lovely readers that post on Saffron & Semper Fi might be a little infrequent. Here is why: I am working on starting my own home-based business out here in Okinawa. There is a market for what I want to do so I am going to pursue it.

Here is the link for the new business venture: Sarah's Sweets & Treats

I have also been thinking about what this blog is to me. As of right now I am a little unsure, but I know that it serves as an outlet for me to post recipes that I enjoy, places I have been, and other food-related and photo adventures. I am starting to really market myself as a photographer and I need an outlet that is only Photo-related.

So, now I have 3 blogs to upkeep!
1. Sarah's Sweets & Treats
2. SABphotography
2. Saffron & Semper Fi

As you can guess...its been a little hectic! I am getting into the habit of updating the one that is the most pressing at the moment. Which is mainly the baking website, because well, it is becoming a business! Please bear with me during this transition time!

I still do have some wonderful recipes and updates to share with my wonderful readers!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What's up with me!

I'm starting my own business!

It's on a rather small scale, but its something none-the-less. AND there is a market for it! Thats what matters!

come check it out!

Sarah's Sweets & Treats

p.s. its more for people in Oki, but i hope it will be able to grow and travel with me where ever I go!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A New Type of Sloppy...

....Sloppy Joe that is! Or, in this case, a turkey joe because I made it with ground turkey instead of ground beef.

I was going to make Turkey Joe's for dinner anyway, but then I stumbled upon this recipe in my Food Network magazine and decided to make it.

Wow, what a combo of new and interesting ingredients...meat, spices, fruit...very Indian in nature and flavor and a spicy kick as well. Try this recipe, it gives the standard Sloppy Joe a new "face lift" so to speak!

~Spicy Bombay Turkey Joe's~
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. chopped garlic
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
3-4 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 c. raisins
1/4 c. shelled pistachios*
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 lg. onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 tsp. honey
1/4 c. milk
4 Buns

For the sauce: Heat the vegetable oil in a med. saucepan over med. heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and peppers until the garlic browns a little, about 1 min. Add the tomato sauce and 1 c. water, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 min.
For the meat: Heat 2 tbsp. vegetable oil in a lg. skillet over med. heat. Add the raisins and pistachios* and cook, stirring occasionally, until the raisins swell up and the pistachios toast slightly, about 1 min. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
Return the skillet to med. heat and add the remaining 1-2 tbsp. vegetable oil. Add the onion, pepper, and cumin and cook until softened and starting to brown, about 5 min. Season with salt. Add the turkey, breaking up the big lumps, and cook until opaque, about 5 min.
Add the sauce to the turkey mixture in the skillet. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the mixture thickens slightly, about 10 min. Add the honey, milk, and raisins-pistachio mixture and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning. Serve on the toasted buns.

This was, again, a very new and interesting flavor. I really enjoyed the sweet-savory combo and the texture that the meat, fruit, and nuts provided. Hubby was not a fan of the raisins, they made it too sweet for his taste buds, but they can be easily subbed out or picked out.

Try this...its new, its good....


Friday, January 7, 2011

New Ingredient Time!

Its about that time again! Another new ingredient went into this dinner. Can you guess that it is? Here is a picture:

Its a Japanese Sweet Potato. This is not to be confused with the ever popular and brightly colored Purple Potato that is also common in Japan. This sweet potato is purple on the outside, but not so on the inside, it is like a regular potato. It was a little softer than most potatoes that I am used to cooking, but it tastes pretty much like a regular potato, or whatever you happen to season it with.

For this meal I just cubed the potato and baked it with seasonings. I paired it with a glazed-beef recipe that I saw on another blog and thought Hubby and I would like.

~Beef w/ Brown Sugar Glaze~
(adapted from The Wannabe Chef)
1/2 lb. stir-fry beef strips
2 tbsp. sesame oil (or olive oil)
5 tbsp. cornstarch (or flour)
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 c. water
1/2 tbsp. rice vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder

In a lg. skillet or wok heat the sesame oil over med. high heat. Coat the beef with the cornstarch or flour and set aside. In a small bowl, add the brown sugar, soy sauce, water, vinegar, salt, chili powder, and garlic powder. Mix until sugar is dissolved.
Add the beef to the skillet. Cook, stirring, until all off the beef is browned. Slowly pour in the brown sugar-soy sauce liquid. Continue to cook as the water evaporates. It will eventually form a thick glaze, coating the beef. Once the beef is coated remove from heat. Add a drizzle of sesame oil, toss, and serve.

For the potatoes I just winged it: I cubed them up, tossed them in olive oil, oregano, garlic powder, garlic salt, onion powder, rosemary...maybe some other herbs. I then baked them at 375 for about 30 min. Just keep an eye on them so they don't burn. The potatoes are done when they can be cut easily with a fork (aka fork tender). Remove and serve with the beef.

Hubby really liked the beef. He said he could taste the difference with the sesame oil. To him it tasted more "nutty"....what a complement! I liked the sweet and savory aspect the brown sugar gave it. The potatoes were alright, nothing to special, they just tasted like plain old herbed potatoes...

The beef is highly recommended...Hubby asked for it to be served again. Stay tuned for the next installment of another new local ingredient!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Why I Love My Hubby...

....He gets me AWESOME Christmas presents!

First...I got these two stupendous gifts:

Set of Shun knives

Kitchen Aid mixer

Then a few days later this box comes....I open it up....

This baby is in there! 

I immediately set to reading the manual....I will master this beast! 

Hubby, THANK YOU, thank you, THANK YOU!! I love you so very much! You know how to make a girl happy...I will make you proud! (oh, and cook and bake you awesome food!)


Monday, January 3, 2011

Resolutions 2011

This year I am working hard on some RESOLUTIONS!

Here are some so far:

Create more ART = Paintings, drawings, crafts, etc.
Finish a 365 Photo Series
Invest $$
Make my ART a business
Blog 95% of each and every month
Be more aware of how I spend my TIME
Eat more HEALTHY
Weight train - start a new activity (Swimming?)
Be more involved (take classes, meet new people, volunteer)
Read and study the BIBLE
Cook, cook, cook....and BAKE
Complete 12 months of the Daring Bakers Challenges
Try and not MANIPULATE situations

I am feeling good about these resolutions so far! I will check back to this post every now and then to make sure that I am keeping up with them. Some are harder than others...

It's time to START!!


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy 2011 Part 2

Here is the rest of my 2010 recap in PHOTOS!!

  • In California for vacation
  • Cook lots of food in North Carolina
Starting off California with a trip to Napa and some bubbly

The view from Mr. Judkin's house where we spent the night. Looking down on St. Helena in Napa Valley

Mumm Sparkling Wine

What better way to soak up all the alcohol than with some burgers and fries?

Art work at a Museum in San Francisco 

It made cool shadows on the wall

San Fran


  • Visit Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Massive going-away party for Hubby
  • Drive from North Carolina to Minnesota in 24 hours (First time making the trip with Hubby)
Blueberry beer at Top of the Hill in Chapel Hill, NC

Peppers at the Farmers Mkt in Raleigh

Awesome sandwich in Raleigh

Last night at the beach

  • Attend my alma-matter's homecoming/rival game. There was record attendance  
  • Godfather's birthday party. I give him some of my photography as a gift
  • Go to Pine Tree Apple Orchard...have apple cider doughnuts for the last time in a while
  • Go to Hubby's alma-matter
  • Get my hair cut and colored! (I went from light brown to dark brown/red)
  • Lots of random activities (we were prepping to leave for Japan. Would be gone for 3 years = we went to lots of brunches, dinners, and what not with family, friends, etc.)
  • Leave Minnesota for Seattle for 3 day lay-over/family visit en route to Japan
  • Leave Seattle for Japan (24 hour flight w/ 2 stops then our final destination)
  • Get Japanese/SOFA status drivers license and learn to drive on the opposite side of the road
  • Buy our first car in Japan
  • Experience our first Typhoon

Apple cider doughnut

Top Pot Doughnut...the original 

Maple long john

Raspberry raised favorite (but old fashioned instead of raised)

Where it all started...

Outside Duke's restaurant in Seattle

Dill Salmon Peroshky

Veggies at Pikes Place Mkt.

Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier 

Mt. Fuji

  • Move into our on-base apartment
  • Try new Japanese food
  • Attend Hubby Change-of-Command ceremony
  • Attend USMC Birthday Ball x2
  • Make 4 pies in 2 days (For single marine Thanksgiving)
  • Celebrate Thanksgiving with the families of marines Hubby works with
  • Purchase our 2nd car in Japan
  • Go to Zakimi Castle ruins

  • Add another member to the "Bancroft Bunch"
  • Hubby leaves for 2-week training exercise
  • Join a local photography group
  • Go to Naha pottery district
  • Make homemade Christmas gifts (granola)
  • Take first Japanese language course
  • Get my PADI Open Water scuba certification
  • Complete my first blog "12 Days of Cookies" countdown
  • Explore more Japanese sights/foods

Orion Beer - Hubby's new fave

Coco's Japanese Curry House
Gen Sushi Restaurant

HAPPY 2011!! Hope you have a wonderful year!