Cooking Goals: What I’ve Accomplished and not yet accomplished

I love challenging myself and testing my willingness to step out of my comfort zone by assigning myself daring, fun and daily goals. I have a list of many items I have been wanting to cook, and will include them on here. So far, I’d say my progress has been pretty steady. I think cooking goals is a great way to break free of cooking the same dishes over again, and obviously a wonderful method to increase one’s cooking confidence! What cooking goals do you have for yourself? What are your general opinions on goals for success? Have you reached many of your cooking goals? What do you think of making a cooking goals list? (Restricting or innovative) If you has a list, what type of things would you include on it?

I’d love to hear your input, and if you like my posts, please comment, rate and subscribe! Thanks!!! 🙂

This is NOT my comprehensive list. These are just some of the more interesting items I have decided to include.  ENJOY! and feel free to add yours!

  • Peach Cobbler (with fresh peaches and brandy)
  • Chinese Orange Chicken

    Goodness this was divine! Original Photo

  • Thai Tea 
  • Naan
  • Curry Chicken (Jamaican Style)
  • A Breakfast Stratta (with herb sauteed mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, fresh basil, feta cheese, and artichokes)
  • Kimchee
  • Zabaglione Cupcakes

    Grilled Tandoori Chicken- a spicy Indian dish

  • Hummus
  • Crab Cakes (jerked flavored?) from scratch with some kind of an interesting pineapple and jalapeno relish/salsa.
  • Baklava
  • Bhakri
  • Tandoori Chicken
  • Banana-Pineapple Upside down cake
  • Stir Fry the way my mom makes it
  • Pancit

    The popular and delicious Filipino dish Pancit

  • Korean BBQ Chicken
  • Spring Rolls
  • Sweet Potato Wedges with a savory garlic and chipotle mayo.
  • Asparagus cooked in a dry white wine, then topped with a garlic and herb hollandaise sauce OR topped with Italian seasoned panko break crumbs, still cooked in a garlic, butter white wine.
  • Thai Chicken in both light and dark soy sauces, fish sauce, spices, and oyster sauces, with sweet Asian chili sauce.
  • Green Tea and Coconut Cake with a Coconut Glaze
  • Falafel
  • At least 5 frostings from scratch (3 down 2 to go: buttercream, cream cheese, and a glaze so far)
  • Enchiladas
  • Mochi

    Mochi-A traditional Japanese dessert. A Similar delicacy is called "ttoek or Ddoek" in South Korea

  • Samosa (Veggie)
  • Tabbouleh
  • Paella (Seafood)
  • Chicken Patty Jamaican Style
  • Lox
  • Buttermilk Biscuits
  • Chinese Donuts (made during the Chinese New Year of the Rabbit 🙂
  • Bagels from scratch
  • Strawberry Chocolate Layer Cake
  • Veggie Lasagna
  • Orange Cranberry Scones
  • S’mores Cupcakes
  • Strawberry Chocolate Champagne Truffles
  • Pink Grapefruit Yogurt Layer Cake
  • Croissants
  • Layer Cake
  • Danishes
  • Red Lobster Biscuits
  • Guacamole
  • Sweet Mango Sticky Rice

    Add sweeteners to cheesecake, whip and dish it. Easy.

  • Berry Cheesecake (everything from scratch except crust)
  • Chai coffee cake
  • Seafood gumbo
  • Bruschetta 
  • Caramel
  • Pear Brandy Custard Galette with vanilla bean (and a caramel drizzle?)
  • Ginger Coconut Blondies
  • Flavored Frozen Yogurt
  • Nectarine Ice Cream (from scratch)
  • Fun Salads
  • Miso Soup
  • Carrot Cake (with a homemade cream cheese buttercream frosting)


TTS Tips: Stuff To Do With Pesto Sauce

Pesto, the perfect mix of pine nuts, basil, garlic, parm and olive oil enhance bland dishes and can be quite a versatile condiment to have in your household. I’ll admit that I’m a pesto fanatic. Mostly because I love anything with garlic and basil, and find that pesto can really add pep (Oh, goodness.what a cheesy adjective.) To almost anything!! I’m going to give a few tips on what else your pesto may be good for. But mind you, I am *not* a pesto expert and these ideas will be from the top of me head, so here goes.

  • The most obvious use- in your pastas!  This is what pesto has been used for historically, and it’s practical, and delicious!
  • As a spread for sandwiches! Try this- Grab a toasted bagel, spread some pesto on there, and fill the center with whatever you want! From a veggie sandwich (using mushrooms, onions, sprouts, and sun dried tomatoes), or for a baked chicken sandwich, this spread is sure to please. Even add it to a wrap for a fun snack.

    Asiago Cheese bagel with baked chicken patty and *pesto sauce*

  • As a dip. Combine pesto and mayo to create a fun dip for company, or not.  (Honestly, I just came up with this one, and don’t have a recipe, but just combine both ingredients until it’s well balanced in flavor.) I’m curious abut what a pesto bean dip would taste like. You can even toast some Italian bread, add a little ore olive oil, and di it in the pesto-olive oil mixture.
  • As a pizza base. Yes, as a pizza base. I love pizza, but often react to the harsh marinara sauce, so I find that having a variety of pizza bases from a “white base” (usually olive oil and maybe garlic) or a “green base” are fun ways to enjoy my pizza in a new and exciting way, without the heartburn!You can build your own pizza by buying the ingredients at your local grocery store, and add some pesto on th crust, followed by cheeses, veggies and your meat. I do recommend chicken or a turkey with pesto, because I have had it and know it’s tasty. I cannot be certain of the darker meats, though.
  • Combine pesto with cream cheese and make a fabulous spread on a bagel or a cracker!
  • As a marinade for chicken/other meats. You can combine some salt, pepper, pesto and maybe a little white wine, whisk it together in a bowl and spread it evenly over the meat. Let it sit for a few hours/overnight, and you’ve got well seasoned, and tasty chicken!
  • In baked goods, or quickes/fritatas/strattas. Combine small amounts (or to taste) in quickes/fritatas/strattas to add a new element of flavor, or even make pesto+ veggie flavored breads, or savory muffins. Even make a pesto and cheese loaf (with a mozzarella, parm, garlic and cream cheese spread?)
  • Pesto butter!!! Combine pesto and butter until the desired consistency.
  • Pesto Bruschetta- Take a few slices of Italian(French or Cuban) bread, and either smear it with a fresh clove of garlic, and the pesto sauce, toasting it until crisp. Then, Add chopped tomatoes (fresh or sundried) and minced garlic (optional) as well as grated parm, mozzarella, or feta cheese. While I was writing this, I wondered if there was actually a recipe for this, because I didn’t want to make something up that was not going to taste good. I found one!! Here it is-http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Pesto-Bruschetta
  • And on a salad- either pasta, chicken salads or green leafed salads! There i actually a salad dressing that combines basil and balsamic. Though its not pesto, the basil flavor is strong and gives the idea of how basil would taste on a salad.

Buttermilk Biscuits From Scratch!!! Recipe and Review!

I have heard from biscuit enthusiasts that biscuit making was no joke. From the wide variety of methods to the variety of styles, biscuits are diverse, yet timeless. This essential food is one I often crave, and have been contemplating making. I searched from a biscuit recipe that I was not familiar with, offering my a sense of culinary innovation and a dash of a challenge/risk element. Would I even like these biscuits? Would this uncommon ingredients used in this recipe pay off, or disappoint?  Plus, it’s somewhat sweet! The recipe is adapted from P4  on food.com.  The link to the recipe will be available upon clicking on the 2nd biscuit photo below. I hope you enjoy it!

My biscuits. Not the best photo as it was taken on my phone. Sadly,I am *not* a phone photographer.

I made the biscuits today, and they came out fluffy, moist and provided my taste buds with an underlying richness that is not typical is the biscuits I have tried previously. They were slightly sweet as the recipe called for 2 tablespoons of sugar. (I suggest toning it down to one if you’d like to have a less sweet aftertaste)

Biscuits pictured on the site. Click photo for the recipe!

I also occasionally have an issue with the bottom of my stuff getting burnt, so I slapped some a thin layer of butter on the cookie sheet, and turned the oven down to 375 degrees, compared to the 400 degrees that the recipe called for. I’m not sure if you have that issue, but if you do, I recommend doing the same. Only thing is the baking time will change, (from 8-10 minutes, to almost 20!) but the inside will be done,baking evenly and the bottom a little darker than the top, but not burnt. More so of an average brown color. I also added some butter atop the hot biscuits, adding more flavor as it melted into the biscuits nooks and crannies.

Also, if you don’t have a jumbo size egg, I read you can substitute that with a regular sized egg and a tsp. of milk.  You can click the picture which should direct you to the site. Granted, mine don’t look as smooth, but the texture if fluffy and soft (and the darn things were delish!). Also, I’m not sure how much of a difference having a bicsuit cutter makes visually, but I didn’t have one. The glass I used was good enough, though. =)

I give these biscuits 4 tongues and a taste bud (4.5 out of 5) just because I’m not so used to sweet biscuits, however, the sweetness would make an excellent compliment to a savory dish. {TIP} Pair these beauties with savory meats like

  • sausage
  •  bacon
  •  turkey
  •  chicken
  • seafood based breakfast items (seafood grits,ect)
  • Savory seasoned eggs (like Southwest types) to balance the sweet undertone, giving the dish a nice balance.

Also, you can get creative and make a unique butter/spread for these biscuits. From Almond butters, to Honey butters (even with vanilla!) to garlic butters (which may be unflattering with this biscuit), or even a spicy cinnamon butter may be a nice touch! Even your tangy fruit, like blood orange jam, or cranberry relishes may bring out that depth you may want!

Must Try Food: Sweet Potato Fries (with a surprise tip!)

Firstly, I must blog about my new guilt free indulgence sweet potato fries.  I love sweet potatoes as I find them more versatile and tasty than regular white potatoes. Also, nutritionally, they are more valuable than white potatoes. Let’s compare briefly. First, here’s a video of the difference between the two:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTb42OGnxLQ

Yummy sweet potato fries (frozen then baked) with A sweet and spicy Asian Chili Sauce.

Nutritional Content of : White Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes: (Some of this may be redundant after the video, but this is more those who may want to see things written versus in audio form) obtained from  http://www.lisanelsonrd.com/blog/white-potato-vs-sweet-potato-which-is-better

White Potatoes vs Sweet Potatoes: ‘Tater Wars!

  • Calories: 1 medium sized white potato has 128 calories when compared to the same size of a sweet potato which has  103 calories.
  • Fat: Both have the same amount of fat content, which is 0.2g
  • Fiber: White potatoes have 3 grams of fiber, where sweet ones have 4 grams. (which helps keep blood sugar levels neutral. Some diabetics have even reported that white potatoes make their blood sugar levels rise, where as sweet potatoes do not increase them)
  • Glycemic Index: White Potatoes are nearly 35 points higher than sweet potatoes.
  • Potassium: White potatoes have 738.3 mg while sweet ones have 541.5 mg.
  • Vitamins C and B6: White potatoes have less Vitamin C, but more of B6, and the opposite for sweet potatoes (more Vitamin C and less B6)
  • Beta-carotene: White potatoes have 8.28 mcg , where sweet ones have 13120 mcg. Holy Smokes!

So what does this mean,folks? Sweet Potatoes > White Potatoes,though they possess different flavors.

Mr. Potato Head doesn't seem too happy about this...

{Reviewing The Fries}

Moving on, I am reviewing a brand of Sweet potato fries I recently tried. I prefer to buy the frozen fries and baking them due to a healthy lifestyle I want to maintain.  The taste of too much grease and fat literally turn my tummy in many directions :/

Alexia Julienne Sweet potato fries comes in a Family Size, low sodium variety that is sure to be a crowd pleaser. After baking them according to the directions, you can be sure that you will be satisfied due to the rich taste of the sweet potato. To make things interesting, I added a touch of garlic to combine the sweet, rich flavor and a savory note that I was happy with. (If adding garlic salt, be warned that some of the moisture will be reduced, and your fries may end up a little shriveled.) Perfect with chicken, or burgers, these bright and healthy baked fries are fabulous! I even tried the chipotle variety because I wanted a more intense experience! These run about $4.

Alexia Sweet Potato Fries Yumfactor: 5 tongues!!! (5/5) These are healthy, fun and yummy! Think low-budget gourmet!

Alexia Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries Yumfactor: 4 tongues and a tastebud.  (4.5 out of 5) While fun, and blends savory and sweet, I find that the addition of chipotle can inhibit eaters from adding a variety of flavors, and may clash with whatever else is being eaten with it. IT is yummy, and perfect for barbecued side dishes, or as a snack on it’s own.

Asian sweet Chili Sauce- a great dip.

Tip: For an exotic touch, use 2 to 5 tsps. of Asian Sweet Chili Sauce as a dip, or even garlic Mayo. This dip gives the sweet fries an exotic depth that is irresistible.