Tag Archive | Rachael Ray


There’s a lot to cover, especially from the smaller lessons I’ve learned in class, so I’ve decided to post weekly every Friday or Saturday. No worries: I have a little notebook that I carry around, which I’ve started using as a planner (something called a bullet journal?), since cell phones aren’t allowed in any of my classes. It wasn’t that big a sacrifice for me since I love to write, especially in cursive (except that isn’t the font I am using for this personal datebook for some reason).

Well, thanks to my bullet journal, I have just been notified that I have a quiz tomorrow. No big deal, but I should still devote some time to brushing up on a few things since then. I also have to catch up on reading Julie & Julia, which I’ve chosen for my culinary history class. The paper on it is due next week, so hopefully I can immerse myself into it long enough before the irrelevant parts get to me. (No seriously, the first thing she talks about is her struggles to get pregnant, so I’m thinking, Honey, I feel for you, I really do. I love babies just as much as the next maternal soul, but the only eggs I want you to talk about is how to properly cook them as you’ve learned it. I don’t need to know how you got your sexual education from a French sex dictionary, because the only connection that has to your story is the French.)

Anyways, I have an entire section of the bullet journal to the “Blog Update”, so I guess I’ll start from the first point: about a week ago, probably on Monday, we were in the kitchen and as usual, everyone was hustling and minding their own business, asking to borrow certain tools or ingredients in order to do our tasks. In the middle of all the chaos, I was at the stoves and since the kitchen was so big, all the stoves are connected side-by-side (although according to them, they didn’t come they way, just arranged them like such). Then, behind each stove is an extra burner, I guess to keep food warm, but it has its own dial so you can set the heat. There was one chef on each side of me and the one on my left was finished with his stove portion of the dish, so he moved on.

The next person to use that stove pointed out that a plastic measuring cup had melted on the back burner. It basically looked like the Titanic, the way the spout was sticking out. Everyone wanted to know who was guilty and, while I knew exactly who the culprit was, I didn’t want to say anything since that person is human and it happens. I knew they probably felt badly enough about it, or at least humiliated even though nobody knows their identity. But I do know the man or woman responsible, so if he or she reads this by any chance, just know, “I know who you are and I gotta say, don’t worry. Your secret’s safe with me.”

Second point: in Knife Skills class, I told you about that adorable grandma who’s been teaching us. That class is always the same, especially at this point: cutting. Chopping, dicing, slicing. I mean, what else do you expect? The first few days of class, the homework was to read and then literally every lesson after that says, “Practice and Perfect” with a quiz or timed assessment here and there.

Well, we were chopping carrots into diamonds and during the demo, she joked, “Ladies, you might want to look into the size because this is one karat.” She said something like that so I had to include that moment. Not that it’s so funny now…or original even, but I felt as if it was something to note. I’m sure it would’ve been a better execution if I had the time to revise it.

Three: dumplings = pasta. That’s pretty clear-cut and dry. I had no idea that dumplings were considered pasta, but apparently, they are.

Fourth note: go get your meat thermometer. If you don’t have one or just don’t feel like digging it out, Google Image search. You know what? Just look at this one: Thermometers.jpg

This is the exact one I have. You see the hexagon? Apparently, if you slide the clip to the other side, the hexagon (not the clip, the actual hole) is free. That’s so you can slide the thermometer through the hole and on the other side of the dial is another hexagon, which fits perfectly into the one on the clip, causing them to click perfectly and stay together. #TheMoreYouKnow

Next: thermometer calibration! The dial can easily be manipulated, which is why it’s always important to calibrate before and after you use it. The Safety & Sanitation professor was so clever. She wanted us to twist the dial and then said, “Oh no! But you completely ruined the calibration! Here’s what you do…” I told you: clever.

So here’s what you do: since our class is in an actual classroom, we didn’t have access to boiling water, so we used the ice method instead. She basically gave us ice water and then all we had to do was stick it into the cup and set the dial to 32°F. Looking back at my notes on it, I specifically said, “I held it so the needle ‘pointed North’ and dragged the gauge so the needle pointed at 32°F.” That is essentially what you want. 32 to be “North”, like on a geographic compass.

Sixth point is sort of gross, but on Thursday’s Knife Skills class, we actually got to do something more than just cut. We had to chop roasted red bell peppers and we had to roast them ourselves on the stoves or the grill, which was a challenge, but I pushed through it. As always, I was the last one to use them and the last one to finish with them.

The roasting process is completely finished by the time the entire vegetable is black. That’s when you take it back to your station and tear off the burnt skin. I have to tell you though: once the skin is off and it looks all pink…it seriously looks like a tongue.

Speaking of disgusting things, this wasn’t actually on my list, but since I apparently never mentioned it before, I’ll tell you now. So, kids, you might want to look away because this is more for adult humor. I realize that makes you want to read along even more, but if you have any self-control, I advise you to skip the next paragraph.

In Knife Skills, the professor had a tip–I should NOT call it that and you’ll learn really soon why–it was a valuable piece of information. There. She says that if we chop off both ends of a cucumber and rub together the meat that was once connected, it lets out this foamy, white stuff (and that’s apparently the acid being released). And, I mean…the way you rub them together is okay, but think about it: you’re rubbing the tip of a very…interestingly-shaped object…in order to get white juice to…come out… Yeah, I know, it’s pretty gross and probably something you’ll never do to a cucumber, if you never knew about it before. Hey, maybe that’s why they call it a cuCU–never mind.

Okay, it’s safe to read from hereon out, kids. Point #7, I briefly mentioned earlier in this post: Julie & Julia, I expected to be 100% about cooking. Julie Powell’s experience in the project which she devoted a whole year of her life to, making every single recipe in Julia Child’s cookbook. I love the movie and, as expected, thanks to Nora Ephron (may she rest in peace), the film focused on the cooking. Because of this, you expect the book to do the same. Now, I know that the film is an adaptation of the book, which means whatever flaws were in the book were corrected in the film. That’s why I prefer the movie over the book, which isn’t something you would often say about book-to-film adaptations.

I’ve only read the first few chapters, but more than half of what I’ve read so far has only been about Julie Powell’s personal life, which makes me think that it’d fit more as a therapeutic journal. I mean, seriously, she described her sexual educational experience by flipping through this sex dictionary, which was in French. That just makes me wonder, Were her parents okay with her publishing that? It’s way too personal for me to be comfortable with. Just get to the parts that involve food and, if you need a filler, don’t talk about your–or even worse, your parents’–sex life. Not only is it any of our business, but we don’t want to know.

And that makes me question whether or not to move forward. But it’s for a grade, so I have to buck up and push through for just one more week. If not, I’ll just copy and paste what I just said about it and maybe that’ll be my review. I mean, when she talks about food and how obsessed with Julia Child she is and her personal relationship with this cookbook, yes I want to know that personal stuff. Just not certain other personal aspects of your life.

Point number eight: the strict cell phone policy. The official policy for the program is we are only allowed to use our cell phones upstairs during breaks. The kitchen we use for my classes so far is on the first floor. The head of the department teaches Professional Cooking Basics and on the very first day, he said that he could spot a cell phone in a pocket from a mile away. In fact, he actually said that if we’d stood up at that moment, he’d be able to tell who had a phone in their pocket. Policy dictates that we keep our phones in our locker and on silent.

The only professor who’s really uptight about this is the Knife Skills grandma (and I don’t mean “grandma” in a rude way–she really does look exactly like my grandma so I feel endearing calling her that. Here, of course, not in public). In fact, everyday she writes on the whiteboard and the first thing she writes is “Quiet!” (because our class has a habit of talking loudly about anything but the cooking) and “No cell phones in classroom!” Still, most of us take out our cell phones, at least during breakfast break (which we devote about 30 minutes of our class period to).

The thing is, we can at least use our phones during breaks, which is basically a pause in the class, right? Grandma isn’t so lenient about it, even during breakfast. I mean, we still take them out, but I suppose less nowadays because she takes note and marks us down. She only just notified us of this on Thursday, so I know I was marked down a couple times. I’m not too worried about my grade though. I feel as if the only way to truly fail the class is from the precision cuts. She’s slightly more strict about that, of course. I could think it’s perfect, but then she checks it on my ruler and it’s too small.

Speaking of the whole “Quiet!” thing, also on Thursday, she wrote down a little more than that on the board. She then added, “Or go home!” The head of the department actually interrupted our class and then talked to us about how the lack of talking about anything but the food shows more respect for the teacher. I’ve been itching to shut up the two guys in my group who are so talkative and just want to make conversation, but the three of us are quiet and try to focus on the precision cuts. The problem with me whenever I confront someone is something always goes wrong and we end up laughing at something I said, which is why I never confront. I just keep quiet and take it.

As much as I hate that it got to the point where the PCB instructor came in (especially since he’s a tall, old, white guy with clear authority while she is a petite Asian lady whose vocal strength matches her small stature), it seemed to have worked, since class was a lot quieter the rest of the day and that’s what matters. He pointed out that the more we talk, the less precise the cuts would be for the people around us. Honestly, I remember Grandma mentioning that a couple weeks ago, but obviously nobody listened. I don’t want to be the person whose first thought is always racism whenever there is an imbalance in the system, but I can’t help but think that that’s a small part of why her words didn’t impact the class, but did when those same exact words came out of his mouth. If it was a racist thing, it certainly was unintentional, since the biggest factor in why he would have more of an impact on the class is because he is of higher authority, not because of his skin color. Also, she has a pretty thick accent, so it’s sometimes difficult to understand her, but how many times does a woman have to say the word “quiet” or write it on the whiteboard in all caps before it sinks in? I mean, she’s the one who learned English as the second language, not us.

Anyways, that wasn’t even the note. There’s a rule in the kitchen–although I’m not sure if it’s in the general culinary world, but it should be–where, if it gets too loud in the kitchen, we do a thing called “Quiet Kitchen”, which we practiced that day. Basically, it’s where “the only talk around the kitchen that should be happening is if it pertains to the task at hand.” Simple for some of us since that’s all limit ourselves to anyway, not as easy for others. The discussion about Quiet Kitchen though was one of those “come to Jesus” talks as my college voice teacher calls them, which is apparently what a lot of other people call them too, but that’s when it really stuck with me. (I’ve had many “come to Jesus” talks, but never placed a name to them till college when it was obvious I hadn’t been practicing my singing.)

10: Since I’m gone all morning, the dogs get lonely even though my mom stays behind. Still, because my personal dog, Coco, has long nails (which reminds me, I should set up a grooming appointment for him), when he scratches me… I don’t know, man, they’re like for life. I had to wear gloves in the kitchen because hot water hurts the broken skin and I figured that since I was in Knife Skills, some of the juices (i.e. peppers or oranges) would sting. Like. A lot.

Point number 11: Remember in the movie “The Incredibles”? They have a Leftover Day, which is pretty self-explanatory. Well, knowing what I know now about how fresh a food should be in order to eat it…is that really a good idea? I was thinking they were eating leftovers from the entire week, but now that I think about it, finishing off week-old meals? Maybe for the past couple days, I could see. And, honestly, it’s a really good idea. For example, today was my own leftover day. I’m on an awesome streak of amazing dishes (the past two nights anyway…Mom cooked tonight so I could catch up on schoolwork and the blog). I’ll get to what I made in just a second because I have one more point to get to.

There’s an adorable children’s cookbook out there by Rachael Ray. There are cartoon versions of her making the dishes and they have fun names. It was probably in middle school when I got mine, not that I was into cooking. I didn’t start cooking until after college. Before then it was just ramen noodles or boiling water. Actually, that was for the ramen noodles. I had no real interest in cooking; just attracted to the colors, really. I never used it, so I threw it out, especially as I grew older because those were kiddie recipes. The only thing I remember is the Chicken Cacciatore, which she renamed “catch-a-tory”, so the kids could pronounce it. That’s literally all I remember.

Let me see if I can track down that book though. It shouldn’t be hard to find. I mean, how many children’s cookbooks could Rachael Ray have published since then? (Watch there be an entire library devoted to recipes specifically for kids.) Aha! Cooking Rocks! Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals for Kids. And it’s $4 on ThriftBooks! Whatever that is. Here’s the cover: 51HHFPR5BVL._SL300_.jpg

It’s pretty cute, right? Well, I was so inspired that one night, I wanted to be like, “Ooh, I can be a chef, too!” I had this plan to set up menus and I’d cook whatever they’d want. Of course, I was unprepared for any of that: not just with what ingredients to get, but five separate dishes for one little girl? Let alone the mise en place or the amount of time it’d take to actually make? As cute as that experience was (or lack thereof), I now choose what I get to make with mere suggestions from my parents.

I  made…(let me check my awesome bullet journal since I started a list of “Dishes Made” now)…Lemon Chicken on Thursday, Pesto Cavatappi on Friday, and Succulent Chicken Parmesan w/ Bruschetta on Saturday.

Here’s the entry for the last time I made Lemon Chicken, courtesy of The Food Network’s Rachael Ray. I skimmed over this in preparation for this attempt. I made sure to add vinegar this time because of that Dad had said. I did not, however, add broccoli this time, like I wanted, but noted for next time. Sort of. If I actually read this entry first. As you can see, I added a little side salad there. Went with cherry tomatoes this time, but no recipe. I keep forgetting that this recipe tends to be too sweet. I know that’s from the lemon curd, which is store-bought. I mean, I suppose I could experiment with just half the jar rather than the whole thing, but I’m not sure if that’d mean I would need more water in order to have more chicken coating.

Friday was the Pesto Cavatappi. Mom’s best friend from high school stayed the night and I wanted to make her something good. I’d made this dish quite a few times now, so I knew the drill. Everyone said it was delicious and, while I know taste is something you must experience, judge for yourself. How does it look? Okay? 

I know I’ve made it several times before, but I don’t have the experience documented here for some reason, even when I look up “Pesto Cavatappi”. Well, here’s the recipe for it anyway. It turns out I needed a little more pesto. I thought one jar was enough because that’s how much I’d previously used, but I suppose those recipes were cut in half. Oh well. It’s pesto. I think that’s more for the taste, not the way it’s cooked.

Don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I’d say the following dish was even better, mainly because I tackled two recipes at the same time. The timing is what I’m most proud of, especially since neither of them took too much anyway. I used two recipes from a site called Yummly.

First was the Bruschetta. The first time I’d ever seen or heard of this dish was when I was in a choir conference in Europe. We had toured Vienna, Salzburg and Prague. In fact, I distinctly remember visiting the chapel where they filmed the wedding scene in “The Sound of Music”–which isn’t where Maria and Captan von Trapp actually got married–and stopping by a restaurant directly in front of it and taking note of a rather handsome waiter and then posing for a picture with him. Apparently, other girls were itching for a photo with him and I was the first one.

This was in Vienna, I believe, and we were having dinner with our chaperones and choir directors. I remember overhearing a conversation taking place between our director and one of the altos and we were looking at the menu, which was still given to us even though our dishes were already chosen for us. He asked the alto, “Have you ever tried bruschetta? It’s delicious.”

So that was the first time the idea of bruschetta came to be, in my life. After that, I’d only seen them in other restaurants, but I’d never tried them. Yesterday, I was watching “Julie & Julia” for the hundredth time and decided, “Hey, why not try bruschetta?” It was one of the very first scenes where they’re talking about what Julie could write a blog about. That husband was REALLY into that bruschetta.

I didn’t expect bruschetta to be so hard–I mean, I was aware that that’s part of the meal, the toughness of the skin–but when Mom texted me that it was really good, I asked her if it was too hard and she said no. So I shrugged and said, “Okay, another successful dinner!”

Since Dad got home earlier than usual, I had to get started as soon as I got home from the store. Because the chicken needed more baking time than the bread, I decided to start with that first. (Plus, the oven temperature for the chicken was slightly lower than the bread so it was perfect since I didn’t have to worry about any cooling down period.) I didn’t really measure the panko since we had a little left. However much there was, it was the perfect amount. I mean, really, perfect. The scraps were, like, a pinch.

Also, this must be my Blue Bloods/Jamie Reagan-obsessed brain talking, but does anybody else (who watches the show anyway) think of “Janko” when they see or hear the word “panko”? I mean, it makes sense, since they’re just one letter off, but that damn name. Have I mentioned this before?

Sorry. Veered slightly off track there.

While the Succulent Chicken Parmesan was baking (the best way to cook meat, in my opinion, because my chicken always tends to be messy, dry, and burnt when I try to fry it), I got started on the Bruschetta. I was going to get basil leaves, but at the same time, didn’t really feel like it, and I knew we had fresh greens, so I took my chances. We didn’t have it at home, so instead I had an option to use cilantro or Italian parsley. I asked for Mom’s opinion and she said that for a basil substitution, she’d go with the parsley.

Bruschetta is surprisingly simple. The only ingredients you worry about is the vegetable mixture and you can mix it by hand. I thought that spooning them onto the baked bread slices would’ve also been a challenge, but you’re free to drop as many pieces as you’d like and there would still be enough leftovers to top off some pasta for the next day, which is what I did, mainly because the recipe says I have the freedom to.

Something I was wondering was which side of the bread to put the vegetable mixture on: the oily side that faces the foil or the clean side? I put it on the clean side or else the bottom would just be dry.

The bruschetta mixture took a little longer than expected, so I had to take out the chicken once it was done and then put it back in the oven after the bread was finished baking. Only while the oven was cooling down, hoping that whatever residual heat there was, was still enough to keep the chicken warm.

Janko Panko-coated chicken

Pre-baked bread slices. I was afraid of it not fitting onto the entire sheet, but it was actually perfect! Don’t you love it when that happens? When you rely solely on gut instinct and it turns out to be a happy ending?

The entire tray of bruschetta pre-serving.

And best of all: plating.

Unfortunately, the chicken did cool down, but that’s because nobody came to the dinner table in time. In fact, I had to take Dad’s plate upstairs to him because he wasn’t coming down and I didn’t want him to eat cold chicken.

Because there were four pieces of chicken and only three of us, there was one left, which was refrigerated and I ate for breakfast this morning. Since it was breakfast and I didn’t have my phone on me, and was also too lazy to get back upstairs, I ate it without taking a photo. It was too late anyway; by the time I realized it, I’d already taken a bite out.

I can describe it as best I can though: There was the chicken parmesan (half-breast), a few pieces of bruschetta, and some of the leftover pesto cavatappi. I sprinkled mozzarella all over the pesto and then microwaved it. This really helped with the bruschetta. It may be customary to eat hard, but I like my bread soft. The recipe for the bruschetta also suggests to use leftovers for pasta topping, which I did on the cavatappi.

This was my lunch, which got me thinking about that Leftover Day from “The Incredibles”. I figured maybe I can cook on the weekends and eat leftovers on Sundays. That way I can do my writing on Sundays and not have to worry about new updates. Plus, I will have time during the week to focus on school. 

But I suppose there’s only one day where I absolutely can’t cook. Since I get out in the early afternoons the other three schooldays, there’s no reason for me not to cook. The weekend thing is a definite plan though since I’ll actually have the energy to prep and execute.

For dinner, instead of eating what Mom made, I wanted to finish off the leftovers, so even more pesto cavatappi for me. (I’m gonna be morbidly obese by…there’s no end if this is gonna be my career.)

Break an egg!

P.S. If the culinary school stuff tends to be boring, I can definitely leave it out. I figured there was some wisdom I could share with you, but since I do talk a lot, I don’t want to be boring about it. Let me know, if you can! 🙂

P.P.S. I usually read over this, but it’s so long and I have to get to bed, like, now if I want to get to class by 7:30AM. Hope you understand!



I was watching the short cooking clips on Facebook for a chicken recipe similar to the Firecracker Chicken. When they got to the flour step, they placed all the flour into a Ziploc bag and dumped all the chicken pieces and coated them using that. I feel so stupid having struggled with the tongs! I mean, I feel dumb, but at the same time, grateful that I found a solution because that’s what I’m here for: to learn. 

For today’s recipe, it doesn’t really require the bag, but it’s “Here’s dinner tonight… Stuffed Chicken Parmesan”. Okay, that’s not the official title, but that’s what it says on the BuzzFeed Tasty website. We can just call it “Stuffed Chicken Parmesan” for short though ;).

I went over the video several times and didn’t think about how to make that first step work. The people who own those hands on these videos make it look so easy, so I figured it would work out the way they did it. It wasn’t too horrific, but not too perfect either. It turns out you’re supposed to make the slit higher than you’d think. At least, I did. I think you’re supposed to make that slit visible from above, or else it’s weak. I didn’t get to do the Ziploc bag thing because these were whole pieces, so I got to get my hands dirty. 

I was going to use string cheese instead of mozzarella, but then I saw we still had, like, 1.5 cups of mozzarella cheese in the fridge, so I used an entire cup of that. We also have leftover Parmesan even though my mom told me to use the abundance of packets of Parmesan cheese we had from pizza deliveries, which had piled up over time. I spent about five to ten minutes separating these packets from the red pepper flakes packets. 

The pile isn’t too big, but that’s still a lot, since we just collected them all. I didn’t use any of them today though. Maybe next time though. 

Here it is pre-baking.

This is how the green beans turned out.

The chicken is all done.

The finished product.

I was worried about the chicken even though I left it in hot water for ample time, but you can’t often be too sure as you’re cooking it, if you’ve been cooking it long enough.

To be completely frank, it wasn’t too appetizing, but my parents thought it was good. Of course, being my parents, they either want to lie and say it’s good for my feelings, or lie and say it’s bad, yet still tell their friends and close relatives it’s delicious. That’s so confusing, right? Haha.

I think the taste has more to do with the sauce, not to toot my own horn. As you probably saw from the second photo, I bought the sauce, so maybe the issue was the brand? Just didn’t really click with me or my tastebuds. I’ll be sure to try out the brand next to Hunt’s. You hear that, future self? NOT Hunt’s tomato sauce next time, just to see where that goes. 

While shopping for the sauce and fresh herb today (just so you know that the sauce was fresh), they were out of basil, so Mom helped me make a decision about it. She suggested I go with my olfactory senses. She kept smelling all the herbs to see which would be best. I picked out a bouquet of herbs that looked the closest to basil, in my opinion, so I went with cilantro. That’s when Mom said that Dad hates cilantro. So I put it back, but then she changed her mind and told me to try it out anyway to see if he noticed. 

He did. In fact, the first thing he asked was why there was so much cilantro. Like, he specifically said cilantro. The issue wasn’t that I used it, but the amount on the chicken. There was a little gut feeling that told me it might’ve been too much as I was sprinkling it all over, but it looked fine, so I just went with it. 

As the chicken was baking, I’d just remembered I had to add a side, so I cooked some green beans. Didn’t use the recipe this time, but I just predicted the ingredients and then had my mom taste test it. She said it was salty, but advised me not to do anything else about it. I used oyster sauce (which is the star), a bit of warm water, and sugar. I think there’s more to it based on what I remember from the Rachael Ray recipe, but I didn’t want to rely on the recipe at all, hence the taste test. (Update: As I was hunting for the website so I could link it, I took a gander at the list of ingredients. As far as what goes in, I was pretty much dead on. It was just the amount that differed, mainly because I was guessing.)

Might have added too much garlic though. Because of the sauce, it was always clumped together at the center. I wanted to add the equivalent of two or three cloves and, as I’ve said before, I typically use a teaspoon as my go-to measuring device when I want to add garlic that has already been minced: one teaspoon per clove. I know that’s probably not accurate, but I just go with it. This math is definitely incorrect, but this time, to get two or three, I used a tablespoon. Again, probably not accurate, but I’ll find another solution next time, if I don’t have already minced garlic around. 

I realize that some people have a thing about their food touching other food, so I would probably use a plate with separators, in that case, but other than that, it’s pretty good. Again: there was something off about the sauce, in my opinion, which is why I would go with another brand next time. That was my personal experience, but I expected it to come from my parents’ lips too, but Mom said it was good. 

Before I officially sign off, I finally ate the ice cream from Coldstone tonight. I usually get strawberry with gummi bears–I have since I was a little kid. Okay, lying, since I was, like, 18. But look at the little baby bear I got! Isn’t it so cute? I thought it’d be half the entire bear, but no, it’s just a mini! Hello, deformed bear! Omnomnom!  

Break an egg!  (Although now that I’m using up eggs for almost every recipe, maybe I can just sign off with breaking however many eggs for that day. In that case, break SIX eggs! :P)


Lemon Chicken. Yum… 

I wasn’t planning on making it again, but it was really good! That’s what I thought anyway. It was Rachael Ray’s recipe, so this is courtesy of her and The Food Network

Here is the original photo on their website: 

Okay? So this was the goal. 

This was pretty close, right? I know you can’t tell, but the texture seemed spot on. That’s what I was worried about toward the end, so I went against the rules and let it simmer at medium heat instead of low. Dad was hungry, so he needed it ASAP! 
If you’ve read some of my other recipes, you can probably tell that we’re more of a chicken family rather than any other meat. That’s mainly because Dad loves chicken. In fact, so much that he could tell that I forgot to add vinegar, which apparently takes out a certain part of the flavor that makes it taste bad? I forgot what it was, but he explained that vinegar cancels this bad taste. 

Like last night’s dinner, I don’t have a blog entry for the last time I made this, since it probably happened during my hiatus (due to laziness). I think Dad mentioned the chicken thing last time, too, and I may have forgotten the vinegar then, as well. I think it had more to do with the type of vinegar. We have white distilled, but I could have just used dry white wine last time. (You see, this is why you write things down, and the main purpose for this blog, you slacker!)

This is what the actual dish looked like. I know it’s not as balanced as I’d hoped, but Mom really wanted to make the pork, so I started dinner after she finished. For me, I got agitated because it just didn’t make sense to have two meats on the plate. It still doesn’t, but we ate and that’s what matters. Next time, I’m adding broccoli, like Rachael. 

Mom said we had lemon, but it turned out she thought I meant lemon juice, but I needed lemon zest. I’d already made my trip to the store after I found this out, so I had to go zestless, but I’m not sure if it mattered. I know it’s called “LEMON Chicken”, but there was enough from the curd, so perhaps the zest was more for looks?

Thinning the curd was kind of fun, for some reason. I don’t know why though. 

I think that’s really all I have to say about this. The level that The Network put it under was literally “Easy”, so it was pretty clear cut and simple. 

Break eggs!


So…what’s up, guys? I know it’s been a couple weeks and I apologize. I did cook a few times over this hiatus and I took photos at the time, but never got around to updating the entries. I figure it’s better late than never, right? Since I still have the photos of the dishes I made, my next entry will just sum up what I remember from making each of them.

You know, I never noticed how creative you have to be in order to get into the cooking business. You don’t want to be cooking the exact same thing every single time–you want variety (despite what I made today). Not only that, but it also has to look good on the plate. If you’re missing an ingredient and don’t have time to look for it at the store, you need to improvise. Just wanted to point that out.

Today, I made steak, mashed potatoes, and green beans. My favorite dish. And I think I’ve gotten it down. Mostly. I still had to refer to the recipes a few times, but I didn’t measure any of the ingredients. Never used any of the measuring tools and they all turned out perfectly. Just sayin’. Just sayin’. 😉

No, there were still a few flaws. I was mostly worried about the steak. I still can’t quite cook it to pro-level, and by that, I mean make the top and bottom less crunchy. I think I slightly burned mine. Just a teensy bit. My dad bought me a book (that I’d actually read about when looking for cookbooks) about how to cook using science and I went over the steak portion. Apparently, it is a big deal how often you flip the steak. I didn’t really care about the details; just which way was better: flip once or multiple times. Answer: once. I only flip it a couple times anyway. I try to cook it on one side for a few minutes and hope that it’s halfway done and then flip, to try to get the other half. Then, I poke a hole in it to measure the temp. If it’s not ready, I flip it because it was, I don’t know, bleeding, and I wanted to cook that portion.

IMG_3194 So here’s the usual photo. I know it looks the same as the other times I’ve made it, but I thought I’d show you anyway. Usually, I’d add more green beans, but to be truthful, I guessed on the portions. Each ingredient. My mom said that they were all made perfectly this time (that steak is still iffy to my standards though) and, tasting each of them myself, I know they just taste the same as my previous attempts.

The biggest question I had is really how to fry steak perfectly. I know it’s typically grilled, but in our family, the men do the grilling. Since I can’t do that myself, I just use the pan. I think my biggest issue is the oil. I feel like that’s always the culprit whenever I cook meat. The more oil there is, the more it explodes and burns me (which is why I always put on long-sleeved sweaters now). I added a lot of oil–don’t know how much, but all I can say is there was about a half-inch depth in the pan, which doesn’t say much because the circumference of the pan I used could differ from yours. Although perhaps that doesn’t matter, because I only used a bigger pan to cook three steaks at once. If you’re just cooking one piece, then you can add enough oil for one pan?

When I made the mashed potatoes (which were first), I just added the rest of the butter that we had, which I’m guessing was 2 tbsp. Then, I added a bit of the milk and, after I mixed it in with the mashed potatoes, I knew I needed more moisture, so added the rest of the milk. I think we had enough. I can’t tell you how much, specifically. All I can say is I used the rest of the milk. (Shrugs.)

Before placing the steak on the pan, I washed the meat (of course), but also dried them. I especially dried them, too. Maybe that’s why it seemed more successful this time. I also just added salt, rather than salt AND pepper. I also put the salt on the steak more easily, I think. I carefully (not slowly) dumped one layer of the salt all over the surface of the meat using the dotted portion of the cap.

As I said before, I only used the recipe as a reference, but the recipes I looked at were, as usual, Rachael Ray’s green bean recipe; only used the Blue Bloods Cookbook recipe to look at that table of inside temperatures, since my brother likes it rare and I’ve never cooked it rare before; and The NY Times Cooking classic mashed potatoes.

I believe that’s about it. At least, I hope it is. I want to get to that update.

Oh, also, when I told my mom that I just guessed at all the ingredients, she told me that with more practice, you get better at your judgment of portion. When you look at the recipe, you can visualize how it tastes as you go over each step.

I will add one last reminder though: garlic salt with mashed potatoes. Perfection. Add it to taste.


Our family’s favorite meal is from a place called Sweet T’s. Every time we order takeout, we eat the same thing: Fried Chicken Dinner with mashed potatoes and fried vegetables on the side. Today, I wanted to make exactly that, in case I didn’t have to drive all the way there. (They don’t even get cell reception. I mean, what kind of savages live that way? I’m kidding. Sometimes, it’s good to unplug for a couple hours.)

This is the Fried Chicken Dinner, which is what I tried to replicate. I used Paula Deen’s recipe for Southern Fried Chicken, which was easy to follow. Just not easy to eat, which is sort of the most important step of the meal.

Paula Deen, who- or whatever told you that one cup of salt was good enough for the very first layer of this chicken was DEAD WRONG. That is too much salt, even for all those pieces of chicken, and the smallest chicken I could find weighed double what you said to get. Not only that, but when I added the salt, I didn’t even use an entire cup. I used what was left of the kosher salt we had, which took up about 75% of the measuring cup. As a matter of fact, my parents and I opted to take off the crust and just eat the chicken.

One of the biggest reasons why I even chose this particular recipe was because, not only was it simple to make, but it got five stars with 881 reviews. (Well, by the time I’m through with her, 882 reviews.) I didn’t read through all of them, but almost every single review on the first page had five stars. Every one except the one star that complained about the salt. I suppose I should’ve taken that as a hint, so that’s the biggest lesson I learned tonight: if there are reviews available for the recipe you are using, do your research and READ. THEM. ALL. While you are one person, and your taste buds and opinions differ from everyone else’s, chances are you’ll still find someone who has similar tastes. Find them and then cry together about the horrors of the salty fried chicken. (Just not over the chicken. There’s enough salt as it is.)

As far as those five-star reviewers go, my mom says that they probably knew just by looking at the ingredients that one cup didn’t seem right, so they made the appropriate reductions for a more successful outcome. That’s probably what I should’ve done: once I saw how much salt was in the bowl, I thought, Is she sure this is right? It does seem extreme. Oh well. It’s only one layer of salt. Plus, it’s Paula Deen. She’s famous. Yeah, fame doesn’t matter. I’m never trusting you again, Paula Deen. You use your abundance of salt to shield you from the demons who told you that one cup was a safe amount to coat the first layer of your chicken with. (I’ve been binge-watching Supernatural so when I think of salt, I think “demons”.)

Except that’s all part of cooking, isn’t it? Experimentation? See what works and what doesn’t? As I said in this post, it’s hardly ever going to be perfect the first time you try a recipe. For example, I learned that what doesn’t work is putting that much salt (or faith, apparently) into Paula Deen’s Southern Fried Chicken.

I think I can see where she thought we needed that much salt though: because it’s used to coat the chicken. Except salt isn’t the only part of that mixture. There’s also pepper and garlic powder, so why not just have more of one of those ingredients? I’m going to try adding more garlic powder next time because I didn’t taste any of it, and I’m pretty sure I would’ve rather tasted a little more garlic if it meant having a little less salt.

I suppose now is the time for the usual List of Thoughts during this painfully…briny process:

  1. Mashed potatoes were first because they were easiest, I’d already made them once before, and I could keep them stored in a warm place. I mean…I didn’t…but I could have.
  2. Holy crap, I have to take apart the entire chicken myself? Here’s the guide I used that wasn’t completely helpful to me: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Cut-a-Chicken/
  3. Never mind, got Mommy to help. And she taught me how to use a meat cleaver! Sort of. She took over after I couldn’t quite get it. Guess she was too afraid I’d accidentally chop off a finger. I wanted to use it like a hatchet though, you know? Swinging it from above my head, but then I was too afraid that I’d miss. How do people line that up so perfectly? Just by practicing? Ain’t nobody got time for that. Actually, unless you’re heading into a career of culinary arts…I think practice is all you’ve got time for.
  4. I felt as if setting aside the mixtures of ingredients in separate bowls was easier for some reason. I think it was because it was nice not having to worry about using the entire thing to cook with. Instead, they were set out the way a factory would organize each station: “Quick. 1, 2, 3. Done. 1, 2, 3. Done. Easy.”
  5. “Add enough hot sauce so the egg mixture is bright orange.” I sort of had a problem with this step. Your bright orange is different from my bright orange, Paula. Plus, there are still many different shades of bright orange. Should it be more yellow or orangy? What if I add too much red? Just add another egg? Am I overthinking this? Perhaps. But am I wrong? I hope not.
  6. I initially thought I had a good system going when I was dunking the chicken into each bowl: drop, drown, flip, drown. Then, it became: drop, flip, flip. After that, I just said, “Screw it. Drown the entire piece.”
  7. Stupid question: what is dark meat?
  8. I also looked up tips on how to fry chicken and I found it pretty resourceful: http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/common-mistakes/article/fried-chicken-common-mistakes
  9. Actually frying the stuff, I was surprised didn’t burn me as much as it typically takes me to fry vegetables. Although in the middle of it, there was this huge bomb that detonated at the center of the pan and honestly, I had to pause for a minute because I was in shock.
  10. I was also a little concerned with the skin during the frying process. I know that whenever they are professionally made, they rarely have skin peeling off, and I was wondering how they do that. If they screw it up, do they somehow fix it? You see the one at the top left corner? The skin peeled off just a little a bit from the tongs. Yeah, how would I fix that? Just leave it as is? Use a bandaid? What?
  11. Toward the last half hour of my cooking time, I ended up handing the green bean duties to my mom since I was still dunking the raw meat at that point. It wasn’t a huge deal since she already has her own recipe for making them anyway. I literally just told her to make it her way, which isn’t that far from the one I use (which is technically Rachael Ray’s recipe).

So what have we learned today, class? Don’t trust the chef as much as you think; if you can, rely on the reviewers, because there’s bound to be someone online who shares similar feelings with you. I read the one-star review, which was the only complaint I read, about the salt and I couldn’t help but think, “Dude, I’m with you 100%. I totally get how you feel. How we’re the only ones on the first page of the review results who feel this way, I don’t know, but good for you!”

In case you wanted to see how everything turned out: Of course, it looks better than it tastes. Trust me. But that was dinner. Although he hated how salty it was, I think my dad ate the most chicken. Then again, it probably seemed that way because he fed it to the dogs too. His, anyway. (That’s why that Chihuahua so fat, but I have more self-control. And like Joey Tribbiani says, “Joey doesn’t share food!” Except it’s my name obviously, not “Joey”.)

I’m going to try this again, but with 1/4 cup of salt. Instead, I’ll use more garlic powder in the house seasoning. See where that gets me.

And as I was making the mashed potatoes, I couldn’t help but think of the “Mother’s Day” episode of Blue Bloods. Obviously, that’s one of my biggest TV obsessions–and you, Jamie Reagan (Will Estes), are not helping–as of October 21st. (Yes, I memorized the date because what attracted me first was Will’s birthday shared with my Broadway husband, Aaron Tveit.)

Anyways, I think of that one dinner scene because the niece, Nicky, got to make “the world-famous Frank Reagan Mother’s Day Mash. I don’t know, I just liked that she got to help out with Mother’s Day dinner, I guess. Oh, how do I remember this episode? I may have bought it on iTunes because of the fight that Jamie gets into with his older brother…


Steak Day! When we went to Costco earlier this week, my mom and I also found something called a Ribeye Cap Steak. Because it was rolled up and there was a string wrapped around it, I thought it looked like a meat Cinnabon ;). That’s why I thought it would be cooked like that. Then, I saw an article about it and it was straightened out.

If you need a visual: uilysgi5t3r5.jpeg (Not my photo, by the way. Found it on Google Images. Looks exactly like what we got though.)

Unrolled: maxresdefault.jpgI think. (Again, this isn’t my photo. Source: somewhere on Google Images.)

Since I felt the grill was better for this type of meat (AKA too long to fit in a pan), and the men in our family are typically the grillers, we left the cooking of the steak to my dad. That means that I was in charge of the green beans and rice. So I guess today’s dinner was a team effort.


The egg was my mom’s final touch. I would also accept that as a side for my last meal, if I were to go on Death Row. (That was based on a previous joked I’d made yesterday, I don’t actually plan on being on Death Row.)

My mom said that the green beans were done perfectly this time although I’m not sure what changed. I used the same exact recipe (Courtesy of Rachael Ray). Looking back though, I know that I probably overcooked the beans last time so…yeah, that’s probably it. I just wanted to heat it last-minute because I still wanted it to be hot by the time dinner was served.

One note about the beans though, the recipe is for 2lbs. green beans, but I knew that 1 pound would be more an enough for the three of us, so I had to divide each ingredient by half. Also, note to self: when the instructions list a bunch of ingredients, don’t just use the actual list of ingredients and rely on gut instinct or whatever you base your trust on, to know when it stops. I had to redo it because I added the oil to the bowl instead of the pan. Even though I’d made the green beans before. From this exact recipe. Less than half a month ago.

Because we keep our garlic already minced, I had to guess at how many minced tbsp. equaled three garlic cloves. Realistically, I think it’s a little less than just one tbsp. per clove, so I think the amount of garlic added this time was a little too much, but it wasn’t too bad.

I was surprised by how the garlic didn’t burn this time though. Not so immediately anyway. There was a lot of oil, but I followed the instructions, so that couldn’t have been a factor in how well the garlic cooked. Maybe I mixed it up earlier in the process, giving the heat less time to burn it?

Oh, and before I officially sign off, prior to cooking it, my dad added his own steak powder…mixture…thing. In substitution of the salt and pepper I tried to add, he intercepted early enough to add his spices. I can’t tell you what was in them, to be honest. They looked like the types of peppers you see in the packets that come with your pizza, but mixed with other spices, which I couldn’t identify off the top of my head. I don’t know if it’s his personal invention, but it’s what we typically add to our steaks, apparently.

4/18/16 Part II

So apparently, my cooking for today didn’t stop at that breakfast sandwich. At around dinnertime, my parents were waiting for me to make dinner while I was waiting for my mom to call me downstairs to eat. Nope. They assumed I was going to cook something and decided that from now on, I was in charge of meals. I’m glad, since it means they like my cooking (or at least can tolerate it and figured my mom should take it easy on making dinner now). That’s when I thought, Maybe this new rule isn’t so bad after all. It’d give me a lot more to talk about on my amateur chef’s blog! (That’s you guys! 😀 You’re the blog! Actually I’m the blog, but I write for you! Okay, I only write for myself and only hope that you read them.)

That’s why I’m in the kitchen, waiting for our steaks to cook. I looked for a good ten minutes on quick and easy recipes since this dinner was last-minute, but I ended up going for a simple steak with a side of green beans and rice–also known as, my favorite meal. Whoops, just realized one of my steaks was on sideways. The steaks I bought were small enough to fit three into a long foam plate, so they weren’t too big. I figured my mom would be happy with those sizes because they’re so small.

Instead, she said that she wasn’t eating because she wasn’t hungry. Then, as she smelled what was coming from the kitchen and heard what I was doing, I suppose the atmosphere reminded her stomach that she was hungry. So instead, the two steaks I was making for my dad and myself ended up for both my parents. Right now, I’m working on my own dinner.

For the steak, I guess I’m not really following the recipe as much as I am only using it as my guide. It’s the one from The Blue Bloods Cookbook, because they actually gave me a chart for how long I should cook the steak. Actually, they gave me a temperature number for each option: we all prefer medium-rare, so all I had to do was take an instant-read thermometer (which I just found out we had, and therefore used), and make sure it reads 130°F. (By the way, the ° sign on Macs is option + shift + 8. You’re welcome, students.)

Reading this thermometer though, I can’t help but wonder: Is this what medical examiners use when they measure a corpse’s liver temp? Except their thermometer is probably sharper in order to pierce flesh. Yeah, if you’re eating while reading this, you’re welcome! Sorry for the gruesome question, but I’m a crime show fanatic, so my stomach is pretty strong.

IMG_2668Am I doing this right? I mean, outside the dry center, it looks pretty juicy, but is that center normal? Like, does it need lotion or something?

Well, salud.IMG_2669WHOA, that steak is salty. No A1 Sauce needed here. The first bite sorta hurt. The ones after weren’t too bad, but I think it’s because my taste buds adjusted. Or suffered paralysis from shock.

IMG_2670So this is what 130°F got me. Again, thank you, Bridget Moynahan and Wendy Howard Goldberg for that helpful chart in The Blue Bloods Cookbook. I also just learned how to use an instant-read thermometer, so thank you for that as well, ladies.

I hope this is okay, but here is the chart they so graciously published: Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 10.05.08 PM

I think by “rest”, they mean let it cool down anywhere but where the initial heat source was, which I didn’t do.

As for the green beans, I remembered from last time that my mom uses oyster sauce when she makes them. I looked up recipes for green beans that include oyster sauce and found one on Rachael Ray’s website called Stir-Fried Green Beans with Garlic & Oyster Sauce. It was really simple and pretty close to what Mom makes, so I’m definitely keeping that one for my personal cookbook.

FYI, I live in California, so we go by Pacific Time, which is why it’s published for April 19th. Is there a way to change that, by the way?