Books ‘n Baking #1

inthekitchen320This is an idea I’ve been pondering for a while. It’s not about writing a book or changing the world. It’s about having fun, doing something I love (aside from writing), connecting with readers, bloggers, other authors who might enjoy it too.

I’m going to start a baking group called Books ‘n Baking. Sort of a take on Julie and Julia and sort of a take on an idea that a food blogger I follow is doing, but with my own spin. (No, we’re not going to bake our way through a Julia Child tome, I promise.)

The premise is, we take a cookbook (a general baking one) and bake our way through it for a year. One recipe a month. And then, we blog about it. The why, the what, etc… (more…)

In The Kitchen With…Lissa

InTheKitchenI was supposed to have a release this week, Love and Tattoos. However, some family things have come up that have pushed it back a few days. I hope to have it out to my readers within a few days, no later than Tuesday, October 29th.

When I’m upset, for whatever reason I am, I cook or bake. This week was no different.

One of the recipes I made, Graham Cracker Streusel Coffee Cake. It’s delicious and a definite family favorite.

Ingredients:

For Streusel…

1 pkg graham crackers, (9 full ones)

1 cup brown sugar

1 stick, plus 3 Tbsp melted, unsalted butter

1½ cups pecans (optional)

2 tsps cinnamon

For Cake…

1 box (18¼ oz) white cake or French vanilla cake mix

1 box of instants (3.12 oz) French vanilla pudding

3 eggs

¼ cup oil

1 cup water

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350

Streusel: Put your graham crackers in a Ziploc bag, close it and roll with rolling pin until crushed, put in large bowl. Add other dry ingredients for Streusel. Melt butter pour over and mix thoroughly. Set aside.

Cake: Beat ingredients for cake together until thoroughly mixed. Pour half into a greased 13”X9” baking pan. Sprinkle with half of the streusel mixture. Carefully spread the remaining batter on top of the streusel and then top with remaining streusel. I usually like to swirl the topping into the batter

Bake 30-45 minutes. Test with a cake tester or toothpick.

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If you try it, let me know!

~lissa

In The Kitchen With…Lissa

InTheKitchenYeah, it’s me. But you know, I was thinking, we should have some guests come by specifically for kitchen days. I mean, I have several guests who are coming by over the next month or so, but none for In The Kitchen With…segments. I’m going to have to work on that.

In the meantime, you’re stuck with me. I don’t have anything new that I’ve cooked or baked  or made.

I just got back from Lori Foster’s Reader Author Get Together in Cincinnati and while it was a good time, the food at conferences leaves a lot to be desired. This is not the coordinator’s fault. This is… I don’t know. Maybe it’s our fault. We choose this diet or that diet, this fad or that fad. We have more medical issues and allergies. We have more choices of sugar-free, fat free, carb-free or low carb, dairy free, soy free, gluten free, nut free, etc… Conference hotels can’t handle this. A lot of restaurants can’t handle this without it being a big deal.

Even hotel restaurant changed their menu and upscaled it and that just didn’t fit with a lot of us. But then, we’re not their typical clientele.

I was witness to this with a dear friend…she’s a reader, completely self-less with her time, one of the least judgmental people I know. She’s beautiful. Doesn’t ingest chemicals or sugars or toxins into her body. She eats a certain way and has to. She’s very disciplined about it. And conference food doesn’t cut it for her. It can’t. She’s one of several hundred people, quite a few of who can’t or choose not to eat what is fixed for the masses. Because of this, a good sized handful of us eat at surrounding restaurants. (It’s good to have choices).

I watched her order dinner at a restaurant. She was good to go with their gluten-free menu, but once she started asking questions, the process became more difficult, more delicate, more intricate. Having worked in restaurants and hotels myself, I can appreciate both sides of the issue. Trying to please the majority, but still being flexible enough to take care of the minority. Sauces and bases and coatings and such are pre-made in a lot of cases. The pace of a kitchen is frantic at best. There’s not always time to make a special sauce or another batch of eggs without the things you can’t have. Some can be altered, some can’t.

They took care of her in the end, but I was completely enthralled by the process. She’s very diligent and very disciplined. She’s an amazing woman and I learned a lot about tolerance from her over the weekend. She was patient and kind and even with that, I think she scared the shit out of one of the waiters.

I remember at Authors After Dark last year, a girl needed a gluten free plate and when she asked the wait staff in the hotel for one, she was given a plate of vegetables.

There has to be some consideration, some back up plan, especially when dinners and lunches are made mandatory or schedules are so packed with activities and running from point A to point C because there’s not enough time to stop at point B.

That being said, I bring a load of snacks with me. I don’t eat white sugar, white flour but maybe a few times a month, or several other things that are common at conferences. I don’t eat out a lot either. Maybe two or three times a month at best. It messes with my stomach and I’m miserable for a week or so after. So I bring snacks and drinks and coffee and I am constantly drinking water. I eat a lot of whole grains, whole foods, and organics. So, there are ways around it all until I can get outside and go to a restaurant where there are more choices.

As much as I love food, it’s the one part of conferences I don’t enjoy having to deal with.

Needless to say, I’m glad to be home. It’s been nice being in my kitchen, eating the way I’ve become accustomed to eating. I’m glad to have my organic milk, my sprouted grain breads, my Bear Naked granola, my organic half and half, Trader Joe’s. I feel better and not near as fuzzy brained. So, yes, even I’m difficult.

I have another long weekend coming up next week of conference hotel food and eating out. I’ll have a little more than a month to get my system back in line before Authors After Dark.

These coordinators for these conferences to the best they can, work with the best information they have. They can’t and the hotels can’t please us all with all our different issues. And yes, it’s an inconvenience to bring coolers of food and stuff, but if it works in the long run and allows for a more enjoyable time with readers, then it’s worth it.

(Of course, the Cincinnati Marriott in Westchester did have ice cream on the menu, by the pint, and I was able to buy ice cream for one of my very favorite friends and authors, Amanda Usen… That right there, was worth everything else.)

~lissa

 

In The Kitchen With…Pinterest

InTheKitchenMe. Again. And Pinterest, too.

I try a lot and I do mean A LOT of recipes that I find on Pinterest. I try a lot of recipes from the 100+ food blogs I follow via RSS feeds. A few times I’ve been disappointed, and only once have I ever had to throw anything away uneaten.

I can look at a recipe and see in my head the modifications I need to make, what would work for the comfort food palate of my family. And when it comes to trying recipes found online, or even in cookbooks, I have found this intuitiveness life saving, especially since I cook from scratch more than I cook from a box.

On Mother’s Day, I tried a recipe I found that was very simple and very delicious. I wanted shrimp and I wanted pasta. So, I found a recipe for Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta.

The only modification I made was using whole grain penne pasta instead of linguine. It was delicious. You can click here for the recipe.

The internet is an invaluable tool for cooking questions, suggestions, substitutions, recipes, and general or very specific information.

There are several schools of thought when it comes to food. To fuel. To stay alive. To enjoy. I fall into the ‘to enjoy’ category. Food is a pleasure. It should taste good, whether you’re eating very healthy or not, it should still taste good and be prepared with good quality ingredients. I say this and yes, I’m one of the fat chicks. I have what I like. I expand my palate often. But some days, I go all out.

I’ve eaten health food and wanted to gag knowing that with a little hot sauce, a piece of cardboard would taste better. I’ve eaten no carb, low carb, vegetarian, sometimes vegan, full fat, no fat, diet, non-diet, sugar free, and loaded with sugar. I love trying new things, cooking new things, introducing my family to new things. I love farmer’s markets, local farms, local dairy, and gourmet.

Food is a pleasure to me. Life sometimes is full of drama and sadness. Life is also short. Everything in moderation is the key. So is changing things up. Food is also inspiration for my writing. I love foodie romances and I love writing them. One of my favorites is Amanda Usen’s Scrumptious and Luscious and I’m dying to get my hands on her next book, Into The Fire. Cooking and baking are also one of the ways I relieve stress. Getting lost in a recipe, knowing I have to focus my brain on it or I may end up blowing up my kitchen, helps clear my mind and relax me.

I hope you’ll give the recipe a try. It was truly, very very good. And check out my Pinterest boards, Deliciousness-Savory and Deliciousness-Sweet. I bet you’ll find something fun that makes your mouth water.

~lissa

In The Kitchen With…Lissa

InTheKitchenI posted pictures on Facebook of the Ice Cream Sandwich cake I made earlier this week for my son’s 14th birthday. It was easy. It was a bit messy. It is oh so good!

And it can be made using Sugar-Free ingredients for a Sugar-Free cake as well and my husband has already put in an order for one for his birthday next year.

If you didn’t see the picture of a slice of it, here you go…

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The recipe for it can be found here on this blog. Honestly, it’s not much more than a box of ice cream sandwiches, a box of pudding, some hot fudge sauce, a few Oreos, and Cool Whip.

If you know me at all, you know I don’t usually use boxed anything. If it can be made from scratch, that’s what I will do to keep the amount of chemicals and preservatives out of our diets. I haven’t quite figured out the stabilized whipped cream yet, but I’m working on it. This though, was easy to do and with as much as I’ve been writing, we’re doing home school testing, and the fact that I wasn’t going to be home the day of my son’s birthday, making this recipe using all the convenience items saved an enormous amount of time. It is yummy. Very much so and I’ve always been a sucker for ice cream sandwiches.

I’ve always loved ice cream treats, usually much more than ice cream in a bowl. The Good Humor Chocolate Eclair ice cream bars were my favorite. Still are, though I don’t buy them but maybe once a year and then I eat the whole box in one sitting.

What about you? Do you have a favorite ice cream treat?

Give this recipe a try though. Will make a wonderful summertime treat!

~lissa

 

 

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