Monday, March 28, 2011

Chicken Stir Fry - Project 52 Week 13 pt. 2

I was inspired to take a better stir fry picture and here it is. This one is with chicken and I also added carrots. Num!

Produce - Project 52 Week 13

I couldn't decide what to do for this week's photo, and then I saw a picture just like this at my gym. All produce. This was really fun to shop for and set up, and now I have healthy things to eat (that is until I add butter).

Even though it was raining outside, I still used natural light. I did all this in my garage with the natural grey light coming in from one side, and a piece of white foam core on the other side to reflect that light back onto the produce.

I love this red bell pepper. I think I will try my beef stir fry again and take a more natural/better picture of it (at least I'm hoping it will be better!).

Happy eating!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Beef Stir Fry - Project 52 Week 12

This is my attempt at a nice stir fry photo. I'm not completely happy with it. I tried some food styling tricks on this, such as cooking everything separately so it looks more appealing. One trick I didn't try but should have was putting clear or white marbles under the noodles, but I wanted to eat it when I was done, so I didn't want marbles touching my food. The marbles would have held up the food higher, because as soon as I piled my meat on the noodles, they started to sink and the meal looked flat.

Here's one of the pictures that inspired me:  NY Times Photo
Here's another blog post that inspired me to try some food styling: Nicolesy. She has a great side-by-side comparison of her stir fry that is styled and her real stir fry that she would prepare to eat.

Here's my photo of the stir fry all cooked together (the way the recipe says) and just plopped into my bowl (note, the lighting was WAY different because the sun had set and so I had no natural light (and was too lazy to get out my flash).

Here's the recipe for the most amazing stir fry I've ever eaten.
Beef Stir Fry
2 pounds Flank Steak
3 whole Green Peppers
2 cloves Garlic
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 cloves Garlic
¼ cups Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Corn Starch
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
¼ cups Oyster Sauce
2 Tablespoons Mushroom Soy (or Any Dark Soy)
2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Rice Wine
1 Tablespoon Sugar

Preparation Instructions

Slice the steak thinly. Once the steak is sliced, put in the steak marinade ingredients and set aside. Slice the green peppers in half and take out the seeds. Slice the peppers into think slivers, but not too thin.
Chop up 2 large garlic cloves and place into a heated pan. Put the oil in and heat through, stirring the garlic. It should start smelling grand!
Put in the steak on one side and cook. I like it a little bit rare, but not too much. Once it’s cooked to your liking, turn it over to the other side. Now mix the stir fry sauce all together and pour it in slowly while the meat is cooking on the second side. Now this is where you have to watch. If you put too much of the sauce in, it will get soupy, and I don’t like soupy stir fry. I like a well-coated but dry stir fry.
But that’s just me.
In other words, use your discretion here!
Throw in the peppers. And are you ready? Stir, stir, stir. Don’t overcook. I take out a pepper after about 4 minutes and try it. If it’s done but slightly crunchy, then it’s perfect.

Recipe from Puna Miller from Tasty Kitchen.

My note: I LOVE rice noodles. The kind I used here are Maifun Rice Sticks. I soaked them in hot water for about 10 minutes, then added them into my stir fry at the end.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ribbon Sandwiches - Project 52 Week 11

I'm not 100 percent satisfied with this picture, due to the lighting, but I only had about 2 minutes to take the picture before I took this tray to my Ladies' Bible Study. And the sandwiches we so delicious, there were hardly any left afterwards for me to take a picture of then.

This was my first time making ribbon sandwiches. I was inspired by my Grammy who gave me the recipe for the cheese filling, and then with my mom here, she inspired me and we took it a step further and added a ham filling. 

Recipe adapted from Everday Insanity.
Ribbon Sandwiches
Golden Cheese Spread
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Bon Appettie
Mix well

Ham Salad Filling
2 cups ground cooked ham (I use my food processor)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup minced celery
2 Tablespoons sweet pickles, minced
1 Tablespoon minced onion
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Mix well

Additional Ingredients
3 loaves of bread. I used sourdough (2 loaves) and a wholegrain (1 loaf).
At least one stick of softened butter

To make sandwiches, use 3 slices of sandwich bread. Butter one side of each slice, spread about 2 tablespoons of ham salad on one slice, 2 tablespoons of cheese spread on another and top with the third slice of bread. Trim crusts off each sandwich stack. At this point I put the sandwich stacks in plastic wrap. They can be refrigerated for a few days. To serve, slice each stack into three ribbons. This makes about 15 sandwich stacks or 45 ribbons.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Broccoli Grape Salad - Project 52 Week 10

This is my mom's Broccoli Grape Salad recipe and I've slightly revised it from when it first appeared on my blog years ago. I took out the celery (too healthy!) and added another half cup of the red grapes and changes the number of broccoli stalks. Hope you enjoy!

Broccoli Grape Salad
4 small bunches of broccoli
1-2 green onions
2 cups green, seedless grapes
2 cups purple seedless grapes
3 oz bacon bits
6 oz slivered almonds, toasted

1 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar

Cut vegetables small. Cut grapes in half. Mix broccoli, celery, onions and grapes in large bowl. Add bacon bits, almonds, and dressing when ready to serve.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Baby Benji

I had the opportunity to do a photo shoot with a friend's cute little baby boy. He was a great model!




Friday, March 4, 2011

Salsa Bean Soup

Salsa Bean Soup. My whole family (including two young kids) ate this soup. This is just short of a miracle!
Recipe from Cooking Light.
To streamline your preparation, chop the cilantro and grate the cheese while the soup cooks. You can vary the heat with your choice of salsa. Serve with baked tortilla chips.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups soup and 2 tablespoons cheese)


  • 1  teaspoon  vegetable oil
  • 1  tablespoon  bottled minced garlic
  • 2  cups  water
  • 1/2  teaspoon  chipotle chile powder
  • 3  (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1  (8-ounce) bottle salsa
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lime juice
  • 1/2  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese


Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in water, chipotle powder, beans, and salsa. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 1 minute.
Place 3 cups of black bean mixture in a blender; process until smooth. Return pureed mixture to pan. Stir in lime juice; simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro. Sprinkle each serving with cheese.

Salad with Chicken and Asparagus

This was my dinner one night. I also posted this picture on Facebook and was called out for having put Ranch dressing on my salad. So next up is a salad with a home-made dressing (sometime this week).

I had fun shopping at Bed Bath and Beyond for some new plates, napkins, and place mats for my food photography. Lots of fun!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Black Forest Cake - Project 52 Week 9

I made this Black Forest Cake for my daughter's second birthday. I got the idea/recipes from Whisk Kid.

The frosting, an Italian Merengue was delicious and easy to work with.

This is what the filling/insides of the cake looked like. I was about ready to dive into it right there.

I followed Pioneer Woman's recipe for making chocolate curls and they turned out great. I was able to slap them onto the side of the frosted cake with no problem.


·                                 3 cups packed brown sugar
·                                 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
·                                 4 eggs
·                                 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
·                                 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
·                                 3/4 cup baking cocoa
·                                 1 tablespoon baking soda
·                                 1/2 teaspoon salt
·                                 1 1/3 cups sour cream
·                                 1 1/3 cups boiling water
·      Directions
1In a mixing bowl, cream brown sugar and butter. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy. Blend in vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add alternately with sour cream to creamed mixture. Mix on low just until combined. Stir in water until blended. Pour into three greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. For frosting, in a medium saucepan, melt butter and chocolate over low heat. Cool several minutes. In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, sour cream and vanilla. Add chocolate mixture and beat until smooth. Frost cooled cake.

IItalian Meringue from Warren Brown
This recipe is doubled from the original (and I almost didn't have enough; if I were better at math, I would double and a half it).
1/2 c (126 ml) water
2 c (420 g) sugar
10 egg whites
1/2 c (106 g) sugar
3 c (474 g) butter, softened, cut into small pieces
2 tsp flavoring

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer.

Heat the 2 c sugar and water on the stove to 245F stirring occasionally only after the sugar has been dissolved. When it is within the range of 230F to 235F, begin whipping the egg whites. When they get to soft peaks, begin adding the sugar and continue whipping to medium peaks, being careful not to overbeat. When the syrup is the correct temperature, slowly pour it into the eggs with the mixer on high. After fully incorporated, beat the frosting 7-10 minutes until the outside of the bowl is room temp (I usually go a little longer than this; often times the bowl is not room temp when I begin adding butter. If the mix seems too soupy, put it in the fridge for a few moments, and try briefly chilling some of the butter in the freezer before adding). Begin adding the butter, tablespoon by tablespoon, beating until fully incorporated. The frosting will deflate a little, but it's ok. Keep whipping until the frosting comes together (this may take a while, mine looked like soup until it finally came together. So just keep whipping). Add your flavoring and whip to combine.

Cherry Filling:
Okay, here I cheated and used store-bought cherry pie filling, and it was delicious!

Here's the link for Pioneer Woman's method for doing chocolate curls.