doughnut disaster

I attempted to make doughnuts. It didn’t go well. If it’s any indication, the shoddy “cooling rack” made of wire shelving and soup cans (seen below) was the best thing to come out of this. It was basically the biggest, greasiest, uncooked ball of slop ever created. Continue reading doughnut disaster


soda and pepper

Everything appears to be going so well in my kitchen lately that you’d think I should lose the ‘neophyte’ moniker, right? Not so fast. Because my posting frequency took a nosedive during the busy summer months, I’d really only been posting some of my more successful culinary adventures. But now that my assorted activities are winding down and I’m starting to get my life back, I have a little more time to post, and thus, share with you some of the horrible, horrible things that have been happening in my kitchen.

Exhibit A: the Dr. Pepper and jalapeño meatballs. Continue reading soda and pepper

in need of some snickers…

I had a little bit of a mishap the other day — not of the culinary kind, but the technological. See, I’m a bit of an organization freak, so when I find a recipe online, I don’t just ‘favorite’ it and come back later; I copy it into the appropriate draft in my Gmail box (one of about 57 running drafts), label it and index it based on categories and ingredients. This way, when I have excess of something like, say, green onions, a simple CTRL F gives me 10 useful recipes I was already interested in trying. When I make one of said recipes, that link and my notes on the execution end up in a different set of drafts. Easy enough, right?

But then tragedy struck. Continue reading in need of some snickers…

fo’ chisel

This past weekend, approximately four of my six major meals were pizza. Don’t get me wrong: It was tasty (in fact, two of those were enormous, gooey, cheesy, fantastic slices of heaven from Lorenzo’s in Philly), but by Sunday, I was pizza’d out.


There’s still a faint aching in my stomach when I recount this weekend’s monotonous meal choices, but it has inspired me to share this fun and spicy spin on your average pie: shrimp and red pepper pesto pizza (adapted from Macheesmo).

This baby requires a few extra steps than your average homemade cheese pizza, but I made it slightly easier by using store-bought pizza dough (the kind in the bag — not boxed, canned or Boboli). Unfortunately, I can’t remember the brand I used, but ShopRite typically carries it in the bakery section, next to the ice cream cakes.

I absolutely loved this pizza. The base was spicy, the red onions were sweet and shrimp was the perfect protein. Everything was great…until we tried to get the pizza off the baking stone.

See, this was the first time I’d used my hand-me-down baking stone, and I took the advice of someone who shall remain nameless and put flour on the stone before putting it in the oven. That didn’t work out so well. Not so well at all. Maybe it was the flour? Maybe the toppings were just too heavy for how thinly stretched the dough was? Fortunately, the extra hands I had in the kitchen helped me basically chisel the slices off the stone. Most of the pie came off unscathed, but a few pieces looked like the pizza-equivalent of getting hit by a truck. (Road pizza? Ehh?)

I haven’t been able to find a definitive answer on what works best for the baking stone, and have not used the stone since this semi-disaster. Some say to put olive oil on it, but I hear that creates a lot of smoke. Others say cornmeal. Some stick by the flour. Can anyone help me?!


♦1/2 tsp. garlic
1/2 jar roasted red peppers
1 tbl. fresh basil
1 tbl. olive oil
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Combine all pesto ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until sauce-like.

1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled, deveined, halved
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tbs. olive oil
1-1/2 tbs. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 medium red onion
1/4 red pepper, seeded, cut into strips
2 c. mozzarella cheese
2 tsp. fresh basil, chopped
2/3 c. red pepper pesto
1 ball store-bought pizza dough

Toss shrimp in garlic, pepper flakes, olive oil and lemon juice. Let marinate for 10 minutes. In the meantime, chop red pepper and red onions. Roll out dough on pizza stone (or baking sheet). Add a layer of pesto sauce, then chopped veggies, then mozz cheese and then shrimp. Bake at 450 degrees for 14-17 minutes, or until crust is crispy.

Total time? 25 minutes prep, 15 minutes bake. (15 minutes chiseling.)
Cost? $3 jar of roasted red peppers, $1 red pepper, 30¢ red onion, $1.74 mozz cheese, $1 fresh basil, $8 (?) shrimp, $1.25 pizza dough.
Overall success relative to expect? 7 out of 10. Obviously, this lost points by way of my miseducation; next time, I’ll bake a pizza that won’t require a makeshift chisel to eat. I cut costs by using a bag of frozen shrimp, and while that worked, they shrunk a lot in the oven. This pizza would be an undeniable 10 out of 10 if I used big, succulent (isn’t that word always used to describe shrimp?) shrimp instead of, well, shrimpy shrimp.


melting in the snow

It’s snowing here in Jersey. The last snow was the first major storm of the season (8-10 inches?), and I learned a valuable lesson: Your new car may not drive as well in the snow as your last car. Or even close to as well. Your new car may be less useful and/or safe on winter roads than the 10-speed Huffy you rocked in sixth grade.

With the snow still falling and no plans until at least the early evening, I’ve resigned myself to staying indoors until I absolutely must dust off my car and brave the unsteady — and undoubtedly congested — Jersey roads. Fortunate for my car, but unfortunate for my kitchen (and related appliances)…

Today’s lesson of the day: American cheese is really good at melting. Everywhere. Behold, the result of my homemade cheesesteak quesadilla (an “American, without” for all you Philly folk).

a maki mockery

What I’m about to share with you transpired roughly four months ago, but it’s taken me that long to stomach the thought of this disaster long enough to pen this post. I also thought it apropos to recount the tale now, considering my friend, Laura — with whom I embarked on this maki mishap — just got home from her first grad school semester in Europe.

When I first sought to break into the food blogosphere, I was inspired by a site called The Food in My Beard. This guy, Dan, always seemed to be entertaining his friends with fun parties full of creative dishes. One of the first recipes I ever favorited was his macaroni and cheese mock-i rolls, a playful take on maki (hand-rolled sushi) using Kraft macaroni and cheese and ground beef. Now, if you read my “About” section, you’d know that I typically avoid The Blue Box in my esculent endeavors, but the creativity and novelty of Dan’s creation reeled me in.

First mistake: Laura and I tackled this challenge on a weeknight. You must set aside a lot of time for this — like, four+ hours. Unfortunately, we were incredibly impatient, which not only doomed the dish, but caused us to pick at all the mac ‘n cheese and ground beef scraps along the way; when the dish got plated hours later, I wasn’t hungry anymore, and forcing myself to try it made me sick to my stomach. (I may or may not have gagged a few times writing this.)

The basic approach is to make thicker macaroni and cheese, spread out the “rice” on a sushi roller, add ground beef and sriracha (Thai hot sauce), roll it up, put it in the freezer to solidify, cut into maki slices and bake to serve. Sounds simple enough, right? Yeah, we thought so, too. Our mac ‘n cheese wasn’t thick enough. We used Tiger Sauce instead of sriracha. We rushed through it. Things got messy. Instead of clever little maki rolls, we ended up with terrible little maki blobs. A culinary failure if I’ve ever seen one.

Total time? Way too long. Way, waaaay too long.
Cost? $1 Kraft mac ‘n cheese, $3 ground beef (but you need only about 2 cups), $3 Tiger Sauce (but I implore you: Go with the sriracha).
Overall success relative to expectations? 2 out of 10. And to make matters worse, Laura insisted she’d eventually bake up the unclaimed mac-beef logs in my freezer, so instead of throwing them out, I had to be reminded of this disaster every time I went for ice. (And, I might add, Laura left for Europe without following through on the maki resurrection.) Kudos to The Food in My Beard for the creativity, and more props for pulling it off. Laura and I could not, but at least we had a good time. That’s all that matters in cooking, right? No? Well… I got nothing then.

even the lighting was bad