Iron Chef Mommy

The journey of a mother and wife in her very own kitchen stadium

Catch up – think we’re overdue??

Posted by ironchefmommy on December 4, 2011

Okay, so, you think I let this go just a bit?? Cripes. I did what I said I’d never do and what irked me about so many people… I started a blog and left it hanging in cyberspace for what seems like eternity in the internet world – a year. Holy balls. Well, where do I start???

Let’s cover the milestones and then we’ll talk about it. We sold our house, moved 200 miles away, bought a new car, house hunted for what seemed like eternity, lived apart for 3 months, Madeline turned 3, we celebrated our first holiday season without my mother in law, and we welcomed a new baby girl into our family (not in that order at all though!).

So, we decided once the work was finished on our house in PA to put it on the market. We needed a change of scenery. There was soo much sadness, and actually quite a lot of bitterness following my mother in law’s death from people we thought to be family. We quickly found out that was not the case. Brett had been hunting for work in upstate NY and got an offer from a company in Northern CT. We came out here and fell in love with the area. He took the job, and they were patient enough to wait for him until we sold our house. We put our home on the market in early November 2010. We celebrated our first Thanksgiving without momma. It was very sad – she was all about food and family and togetherness. I cooked the full meal just for the 3 of us at home and it was really nice. We traveled to NY for Christmas and celebrated with my family. A few days later we got wonderful news – that we were going to have another baby, and then we found out something even cooler – my cousin was pregnant with her first child – and our due dates were 6 days apart! So exciting!

We sold our house in April and moved Memorial day weekend. Brett went to stay with a friend in CT because he had to start work. Madeline and my pregnant self headed to NY to stay with Barb until we had a house and a closing date. It ended up being all summer and a lot of back and forth visiting. We found a beautiful home and moved in on August 19. For those of you keeping track, my due date was Sept 8. Yep. I moved with less than 3 weeks to go, so ridiculously pregnant I was surprised my water didn’t break on moving day. But our little peanut hung in there. She stayed put through the earthquake and the hurricane (all within 10 days of us moving in). Brett worked labor day (sept 5) so he could take off Sept 6 (I had an OB appointment early in the am). I went to my appt and my darling, wonderful obstetrician told me not to drive the 40 minutes home and to stay close. I went for coffee, and called him an hour later. He ordered me to the hospital and I was admitted at 11am. Quick labor, once again (thanks mom!), easy easy labor and delivery. I am a lucky lady in that department. Thank goodness Brett was home, because he packed up Madeline and met me at the hospital. They admitted me at 11am and she was born at 5:55 pm.

Our beautiful angel Alaina Rose was born on Sept 6, 2011. She was 7 lbs 10 oz and 19.25 inches. For those of you keeping score, that’s nearly 2 pounds smaller than her big sister and nearly 3 inches shorter. She’s a peanut! My darling cousin was 4 days overdue at this point. She delivered a healthy baby boy on 9-10-11. It would have been awesome to go together since we delivered at the same hospital, but you can’t beat two healthy babies :)

Here’s a picture of our darling Alaina being held by her very proud (and incredibly overprotective) big sister


So that’s where we are. We are settled in beautiful Northwestern CT and loving it. We are slowly meeting new people, making new friends and starting some new memories in a happier place. Let’s hope I can keep this going :)

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Catch up – you think?

Posted by ironchefmommy on December 4, 2011

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Posted by ironchefmommy on December 4, 2011

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Valentine’s cupcakes – the best part of the day!

Posted by ironchefmommy on February 19, 2010

So, the fact that I’m posting my Valentine’s cupcakes about a week late, that should give you some insight as to how busy I am. We were buried in snow… no, literally. Buried. Meaning there was 2+ feet of snow in my backyard. So, actually, my child was buried. Up to her waist. I have pictures. They’re adorable. Brett even took the snowblower into the backyard (that was money VERY well spent…and yes, I say that every time it snows) and make a huge 4 ft tall slide for her to slide down. We were freezing and soaking wet, but it was so worth it. She had so much fun, and kicked and screamed when we took her in because she was so windburnt.

So, we made Valentine’s cupcakes. After they were made, I went on an all out search looking for the memory card to my camera. Those of you on Facebook know what my morning was like that day. No wonder I didn’t get anything done. I was too busy flipping over my couches looking for it. So, this picture of my Valentine cakes is a bit grainy, my blackberry definitely can’t do what my camera can. But they looked adorable. And they tasted yummy. Until Saturday, when I headed to see my darling friend Angelina for her bachelorette party at the Sands Casino. We were getting ready and she mentioned the icing tasted a bit salty… then I thought back… that’s what I get for letting the 2 year old stand in front of the mixer with my back turned. She put a touch more in after. Oops. Oh well. The Sands was great. We had a wonderful time – we ate dinner at Emeril’s Chophouse and it was beyond fantastic. I mean, amazing. I had duck, which was perfection. It melted in my mouth. I wanted to ransack the kitchen and eat everything.

So, back to Valentine’s Day. I was pleasantly surprised that my darling husband had an adorable singing card and TWO boxes of chocolates for me when I arrived home Sunday morning. He rocks. Definitely a keeper.

These cupcakes are yummy. The cakes are moist and spongy and have a great flavor. It’s actually the recipe for Amy Sedaris’ Vanilla Cupcakes. The frosting is really yummy. At least it was before my princess dumped a bit more salt into them. I added Wilton Rose Pink coloring to the icing to bring that nice pink color and they’re topped with Wilton toppers and heart sprinkles. Oh, those are Wilton heart liners too.

So, here you go:

For the cupcakes:
1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter
1 ¾ cups of sugar

Beat well, then add:

Add 2 large eggs
2 Teaspoons of pure vanilla
½ teaspoon of salt
2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
2 ½ cups of flour
1 ¼ cups of milk

Beat well, fill cups, and bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes. You should get 24. I get 18, ’cause I’m doing something wrong.***

Those are Amy’s directions. She gets 18. I halved the recipe and got 11. Oh well.

For the frosting:
3 c. confectioners’ sugar, sift if lumpy
1/4 c. Crisco
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. milk

In bowl, combine 1 cup of the sugar, the Crisco, vanilla and salt. Alternately add milk and remaining sugar; mix until smooth and creamy. Add more sugar to thicken or milk to thin if needed for good spreading consistency. Frosts tops and sides of two 9-inch layers or one 9x13x2 inch cake.

Posted in Baking, Cupcakes, Holiday, Sweet | 1 Comment »

I admit it, I’m a snob. There, I said it.

Posted by ironchefmommy on February 12, 2010

I bet half the bitches that hate me, or read this blog just to get some info on what’s going on in my life are thinking, wow, she really is a snob. Well, sorry to crumble your cookie girls, but that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Cookies. Chocolate chip to be exact.

I like to think I’m not addicted to any sweets (lie #1). I basically ate nothing but ice cream through my whole pregnancy with Madeline and wondered why I gained so much weight. Thank goodness for genetics is all I have to say about that (and my darling mother, the personal trainer). I got to a point when I was pregnant that my mother (and husband) basically had to pry the ice cream spoon out of my hands. I was addicted. Then there’s chocolate. For a few years, I was like Kyra Sedgwick’s character in The Closer. I had chocolate everywhere. It was in my desk at work, in my car, in my purse, briefcase, in the freezer. Hell, I even kept a bag of Dove chocolates in my nightstand (because the 12 steps to the kitchen was just too far). It’s been awhile since I’ve had chocolate in my nightstand. I like to think that was the coping with the stress of my job. Now I just keep it in the freezer… and there’s way less of it.

But, I’m not actually a huge dessert person. If I’m out to eat, I can actually just have a bite or two of whatever is there and be fine. My sweet tooth is satisfied. Cheesecake, chocolate cake… just a few bites are enough for me. Ice cream is a different story… I probably could never completely give that up. Same goes for chocolate chip cookies.

I literally could eat a box of chocolate chip cookies in a sitting, no question. Luckily, I’ve stopped myself before doing so, but I’ve definitely sat my ass down and gobbled up 10 or 12. Sometimes it’s while I watch the Biggest Loser. Sometimes I feel bad while doing it, but then I remember that once I feel my pants get tight, everything gets cut out for 3 weeks and suddenly, I’m even lighter than before I started (thanks again Mom, for the rocking metabolism). Anyway, they are my guiltiest pleasure ever. I appreciate them even more now, and here’s why-

After Madeline was born, before I even left the hospital, my mom and I agreed (well, she said she was going to help me so I had no choice basically!) that I would listen to her nutrition plan for 6 weeks to drop most of the weight I had gained and keep the nutrients I needed since I was nursing and needed extra calories. I agreed and figured I could do anything for 6 weeks. Besides, I’d just eaten probably a ton of ice cream in the last 6 months or so (the first 3 was nothing but Chinese food… gross, I know. don’t ask. I rarely go near it now). I was all set… then we walked in my door. My mom’s oldest sister sent me a box of cookies from Chip ‘N Dipped. Well, these darling things were the last thing I needed. But now there were 2 dozen of them in front of me. Giant chocolate chip cookies, half dipped in chocolate. Holy shit. Well, she packed up half of them right away. Then she told me everytime I lost 10 pounds I could have a cookie. That was it. I asked her right away if I could have 2 since I dropped almost 20 pounds just at the hospital. No dice. So I had no choice but to listen. I wanted those cookies. So I lost the weight and those cookies were every bit worth the wait. I would dream about them. I could give up a lot of things… never chocolate chip cookies.

Since then I have been trying to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I will be the first to admit I never had a lot of luck with baking cookies. Either my pan wasn’t right or the oven was too hot or the rack was too low, take your pick. When those things weren’t an issue, it was the recipe itself. I never got that “whoa” taste from cookies I’d baked at home. I’m very picky about my cookies. I like them to have a bit of crispiness around the edges with a softer middle that leave you craving a huge glass of milk. Well, I found them. Finally. Not only did I find the perfect recipe, but my oven decided to work wonderfully, my racks were way at the top, and the cookies were literally perfection. I ate one right out of the oven and two more once they cooled. I’m ready to polish off about 10 more, but it’s almost midnight so I’m thinking that’s not the smartest idea. So, if you’re a cookie person, these are definitely for you.

World’s best chocolate chip cookies

You’ll need:

2 eggs
1 (12 oz bag) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon water
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

You’ll have to:

First, mix together flour and baking soda and set aside.
Cream butter, white and brown sugar, vanilla and water in electric mixer until creamy. Beat in the eggs. Add the flour mixture a little at a time. Mix well until creamy. (You’ll want to make sure there are no lumps, but don’t overbeat… overbeating releases glutens in the flour and makes everything starchy and glumpy and weird). Stir in chocolate chips by hand.
Make little round balls, about 1 tsp apiece, and place onto well greased cookie sheet (I use Pam for Baking). Place on top rack in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove immediately from pans and cool on wire racks.

This recipe makes 36 cookies. Now, there’s nothing wrong with 36 cookies, except that I’d eat every single one of them. I halved the recipe and got 20 cookies.

They’re delicious– Even Madeline thought so when she tried to taste the cookie batter…..(or as she would say, “mmm….a-wishous!”)

Posted in Baking, Cookies, Miscellaneous, Musings, Quick, Sweet | Leave a Comment »

Superbowl (of food) Sunday…

Posted by ironchefmommy on February 10, 2010

Well, I’m a bit behind, of course. As noted in my last post, things are going to be changing around here in the next few weeks, so I’d ask those of you that do read to hang in there until they’re all finished. Posting is probably going to be slightly limited, only because I am one person and only have so many hours in a day to get shit done. I’ll do my best to have things go smoothly, but that’s never a sure thing with me. Ha.

So, Superbowl Sunday. My take on it? I usually don’t watch football during the season. I did in college because I would probably have been thrown out of my house if I wasn’t cheering for the resident team, our NY Giants (or Cattie’s Steelers). So, my Sunday’s in college consisted of beer and food, and whatever game happened to be on tv. We’re pretty much a baseball house. But, if an NY team happens to make it to the playoffs, will I watch? Maybe. Brett’s stepdad is a Giants fan as well, so if we’re up there on a Sunday, chances are that game is on.

Now, one of my closest, dearest, best friends is a New Orleans native. We have gone back and forth over the 10 years we’re friends, I should move south, she should move north… neither is likely, especially now that we have 2 feet of snow dumped on us and she’s what you would call a “tropical people.” I was glued to the tv during Katrina and the storms that have hit since, worrying about her and her family – since we’re friends we’ve been through quite a bit, husbands, children, and a whole lotta crap. I love her dearly. Anyway, her Saints made (and have since won, in case you’ve been living under a rock) the Superbowl. Of course I was happy for her – and my dad, who lived in NO for quite a few years, was beyond thrilled. Plus, I’m an Emeril fan. So we set out to cheer on the Saints and watch the game. Brett’s friend moved back into PA about a week or so ago from AZ, and it was an understatement that Brett was happy to have him back. So he came up for dinner (I made my Shepherd’s Pie at Brett’s request) and we enjoyed some snacks. I didn’t go overboard since Brett’s trying to eat a little healthier since we’ve started working out together. I made my famous 7 layer taco dip (more healthy than the other option, buffalo chicken dip) and I made wings. Baked, not fried, so slightly better, but I left the skin on. Yum. So, if you’re throwing a party, these are easy and yummy. Enjoy!

7 layer taco dip

You need:

9″ or 10″ pie plate
taco sauce or salsa 2-3 tablespoons
refried beans (1 can)
3 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
taco seasoning envelope
chopped tomatoes
chopped scallions
sliced olives
cheddar/jack cheeses

Mix one can refried beans with 2-3 tablespoons of salsa or taco sauce and spread into bottom of pie plate. In a seperate dish, stir together sour cream and mayo. Spread on top of bean mixture. Layer 1/2 envelope of taco seasoning. Cover dish with shredded cheddar/jack cheese and top with chopped scallions, tomatoes, and olives. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour before serving.

Homemade buffalo wings

First get:
30 chicken wings
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup hot sauce (like RedHot)

Then:
Take flour, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and salt and mix in large ziploc bag. Drop wings into bag and shake to coat. Remove wings. On large baking sheet, place tinfoil then spray with cooking spray. Place wings on cooking sheet and refrigerate for one hour.

Remove wings from fridge. In small saucepan, combine butter and hot sauce. Add tabasco if needed. I added some honey and 2 tbs brown sugar because I thought it needed a little zing. Coat wings in sauce and place on baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, turning wings halfway through.

Posted in Appetizer, Baking, Chicken, Dinner, Holiday, Meat, Miscellaneous, Quick, Vegetables | 1 Comment »

ch-ch-changes…

Posted by ironchefmommy on February 6, 2010

Well, it’s been a wonderful first month of 2010! Blogging is great, family is wonderful, and the kitchen smells fantastic! I must say, the craziness is wonderful and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, instead of trying to slow down, we’re going full steam ahead. Between home, school, family and everything in between, I’ve decided to throw some more fun into the mix! Stay tuned for some great updates and some new appearances for this blog in the coming weeks!

In the meantime, I will still be posting some recipes – especially this next week with the Superbowl (go Saints!) tomorrow and Valentine’s day and lots of playdates coming… be sure your cabinets are stocked – we’re going to be cooking fools!

Posted in Miscellaneous, Musings, Quick | 1 Comment »

Cinna-who?

Posted by ironchefmommy on February 4, 2010

So, last week I attempted to make a coffee cake. It was delicious, although not very aesthetically pleasing. It looked really funny. I put the crumb topping on before I put it into the oven. When I took the cake out, it had disappeared! It sank into the cake. Now don’t get me wrong, it was really yummy. The crumbs were scattered throughout the cake so when you took a bite, it was a pleasant surprise. Next time (and after next time I’ll post the recipe) I’d probably let it bake and put the topping 10 minutes or so before it was done. Live and learn. Anyway, I got to thinking about things I’d like to try and make. Everytime I go to the mall, I walk past Cinnabon and my mouth waters. But- 4 bucks for a cinnamon roll? Come on. So I thought, I could do these. I found a recipe and went to work. I was surprised at how easy it was to do, considering I am not super experienced with working with yeast.

Now, a few things first. I halved the recipe. This is for the FULL recipe. I didn’t need that many because, well, I didn’t know how they were going to turn out, but mostly, I didn’t have that much flour left in the house. I am running VERY low. If you’re going to half the recipe, make sure you use a baking calculator like this one. Anyway, here’s the original recipe:

You will need:

2 cups of warm water
1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons dry yeast (or two packages of dry yeast)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup Canola oil (I use Canola, but you can use any kind of cooking oil) (you can also use shortening, if you prefer)
6 to 7 cups of flour

Then you:

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let sit for a minute or two. Add the sugar and salt. Mix. Add the cooking oil (or shortening), 2 eggs, 2 cups of flour and beat until smooth.
Stir in 3 more cups of flour. Begin kneading the dough, adding the final cup of flour. If the dough seems too sticky, knead in more flour, a quarter to a half cup at a time.
Let the dough “rest” for 15 to 20 minutes.

Roll the dough into a rectangle that’s 24 to 30 inches long by about 16 inches wide. Spread with soft butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Starting at the wide end, roll into a log.
Cut the cinnamon rolls into equal sized slices (approximately one inch wide each or slightly more) and place into two greased 9×13 pans. Put in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (or until the cinnamon rolls are golden brown).
Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then turn out of the pans.
This recipes makes two dozen cinnamon rolls. If you want REALLY BIG cinnamon rolls, cut into 12 equal pieces 2 inches wide.
Total amount of time needed from start to finish (including time to bake) is about 2 hours.

Okay, now my edits. These were good, but a few things. Nowhere does it say how much butter you should use. I melted 1/2 stick and painted the dough with it. Eh. I would probably use more, and just let it get soft and spread it to get a thicker coat. I would say 3/4 stick for a 1/2 recipe to give you an idea of how much. Now, the consistency of these were great. They looked good, they were a great size. My only issue was the dough wasn’t really sweet. It needed something else – icing. Now, I was running late to bring these to a playdate so I did the only thing I know how to do – improvise. I grabbed the other half of the stick of butter, threw it in a small saucepan to melt. I added maybe a capful or so of vanilla and some confectioner’s sugar (roughly 1/2 cup or so) and whisked it together. It tasted pretty good… a little thick so I just put a few drops of milk in to loosen it up and poured it over the rolls. PERFECT. They were delicious. I’ve been picking at them for the last couple of days here and there.. throwing them in the microwave and then eating them. Faboosh!

Normally, this is where I would post a picture of these delicious creatures. However, my daughter has managed to break pieces off of each one and it’s now one big cinnamon cakey-thing in the tupperware. I should have snapped a pic before I dashed out of the house, but, live and learn. Next time, I promise. If it’s any consolation to any of you, they looked amazing.

This is a recipe that even the most novice can do. The most important part is to be patient and let the yeast rise as needed or they will come out tasting like bricks. Good luck!!

Posted in Baking, Breakfast, Dessert, Sweet | Leave a Comment »

See that girl…watch that scene…she is a ziti queen!

Posted by ironchefmommy on January 24, 2010

Well, I do apologize. Things over this way have been slightly left of crazy the past week or so. Madeline’s birthday was wonderful! She enjoyed everything! We had a small family get together on Saturday the 16th for her. Unfortunately, I was battling a slight cold earlier in the week, and Brett somehow caught it and it turned into something quite nasty. So he spent her birthday party in bed asleep, half whacked on cold medicine. Poor guy. She had a wonderful time though, and we took LOTS of pictures :)

So, since she’s only 2, we didn’t do anything big for her party-wise. I ordered a tray of sandwiches and a Dora cake and made a tray of my (now famous) baked ziti. I love ziti. It really is the best dish – so easy to throw together in a short amount of time, but perfect for a get together and it’s a dish that makes people think you really slaved for hours. In reality, it takes about 15 minutes to put together and about a half hour in the oven. Amazing. I made a tray for her party, then two days later, I made another tray. I guess I should elaborate a bit.

I am a part of a wonderful group of women – we have a playgroup called Tri County Tots. Our kiddos get together to socialize and do fun stuff… and we get mommy time that is usually much-needed. It’s great. Well, we do our best to organize meals when moms bring a new baby home – it’s hard enough getting adjusted so we try to help out. On January 10, my dear friend Kristin gave birth to a beautiful little girl named Genevieve Grace. She’s soo teeny – just a little peanut! So Monday was my day to bring her a dinner. I had made sauce that Friday in anticipation of Madeline’s party, so I made a bit extra and made a tray for Kristin with some delicious Italian bread. She was more than grateful, and I got to hold baby Genevieve, which was a high point in my day – she was smaller at a week old than Madeline was when she was born – I couldn’t believe it (she was over 9 pounds though lol).

Anyway, since my ziti is always a hit when I make it, I’m sure whoever you make it for will love it too!
Enjoy!

Baked Ziti

First you should have:

16 ounces red sauce (see my sauce recipe HERE)
1 pound ziti
12-16 oz shredded mozzarella, divided (use the whole milk stuff for this recipe. The part skim just doesn’t cut it)
15 oz Ricotta cheese (again, whole milk)
1 egg
1 teaspoon parsley
1/2 tbs parmesean cheese (more to taste)

Then you should:
Boil pasta – about 5 minutes in boiling water. Pasta should be almost hard. Don’t overcook it, otherwise once it’s baked it will taste like mush. Not fun.

In a large bowl – add the ricotta, egg, 8 ounces of mozzarella, parsley and parmesean. Stir together until creamy. Line the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish with some of the sauce. When the pasta is finished, drain it, then run pasta in colander under COLD water. This will slow the pasta from continuing to cook while you prep it. Plus, it’s easier to handle, since it won’t burn your fingertips off. Toss about 1/4 of the pasta into the bottom of the dish, on top of the sauce. Throw the rest of the pasta in the bowl with your ricotta mixture. Toss it around, then add roughly 6-8 ounces of sauce and stir until mixed. Pour the whole mixture into the baking dish. Add a few more spoonfuls of sauce (not a lot – you can always add sauce to the dish after it comes out of the oven) and top with remaining shredded mozzarella.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes – until cheese is bubbling at top.

Add the rest of the sauce as needed and serve!

See? I told you it was easy :)

Posted in Baking, Birthday, Cheese, Meal, Meat, Pasta, Quick, Sauce | 1 Comment »

Shameless Plug….. cause we’re super awesome

Posted by ironchefmommy on January 19, 2010

Well, I’ve had a week of craziness. I got a cold on Madeline’s birthday, then Brett got it waaaay worse (as in he’s still not better, poor guy) and had to miss her birthday party on Saturday. Things have been a bit crazy since classes also started on Friday. I got the genius idea to take 5 classes this semester… I know. I guess we’ll really see what I can handle, huh?

In the meantime, I hope to be back tomorrow with some yummy recipes from this past week and some musings on what’s going on.

Until then, check out our super awesome bookery cookery blog… Cooking The Books, since Gina added a new post about our book, Garlic & Sapphires. It’s awesome. The book, the blog, and Gina. Not necessarily in that order, because she’s pretty awesome. Enjoy, foodies!

Posted in Miscellaneous, Musings, Plugs, Quick | Leave a Comment »

 
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