Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dirt and Worms Cake

This cake was my brother's request and I promised to make it for him before I left.  I know Savemart sells 2-layer "Dirt and Worm" cakes in the bakery, but when I searched online I could only find recipes for "cakes" (more like trifles) consisting of cream cheese and broken up oreo pieces stuffed into flower pots or sand pails.  However, I wanted to make an actual cake.  So this is my rendition of what I believe to be a dirt and worms cake.  I made two of these small cakes, one for my brother's pleasure, and another one to take to work for my self-declared going away party.

Dirt and Worms Cake
1 box Devil's food cake mix
1 box Jell-O chocolate fudge instant pudding mix
1/2 package Oreo Cookies, crushed
1 6 oz. package gummy worms

Bake the cake as directed on the package.  Let the cake cool for at least one hour.  Remove from pan and slice in half.  
Prepare pudding as directed on package.  Spread pudding onto the first layer of cake.  Cover with crushed Oreo cookies.  
Place second cake layer on top.  Poke holes with a chopstick or other instrument similar in size in various places on top.  Stick gummy worms through the holes until they reach the second layer but are still visible on the top.  Spread pudding mix around the worms to coat the cake.  Top with more crushed oreos.  
Lick up any excess of pudding, oreo crumbs, gummy worms, or any sign of mess, and enjoy the cake!


Monday, September 14, 2009

Mexican Quiche

This quiche tasted more like a cheeseburger than mexican inspired.  But all the men in my family enjoyed it, including Julian.  I topped it off with a dollop of sour cream, some slices of avocado, and jalepenos for my dad and brother.
Mexican Quiche
1 refrigerated pie crust
1-lb lean ground beef
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup salsa
2 cups shredded cheese, your choice
1 small onion, finely diced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Brown ground beef in a large skillet. Add onion and cook until they are soft and translucent. Drain beef, stir in spices and cook 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in salsa. Add eggs. Fold in cheese and pour mixture into pastry crust. Bake 45-50 minutes until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes. 

Italian Chicken Salad

I was going to use leftover chicken for this recipe, but then I realized I only had one chicken breast left, and this recipe called for at least 3 cups. So I resorted to these butterball turkey breast strips my mom had purchased in place of the chicken. With all the flavors, you couldn't even notice the difference in meat. I forgot I even made the substitution and kept calling this chicken salad.
Italian Turkey Salad
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 small gloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups sliced turkey breast
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 cup of pitted ripe olive slices
3 (6.5 oz) jars of quartered artichoke hearts, drained
To prepare dressing, combine first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to a small skillet and saute red bell pepper until tender; about 8 minutes. When the peppers begin to soften, add the quartered artichoke hearts. Remove from skillet after 8 minutes and let cool.

To prepare salad, place chicken in a large bowl. Pour dressing over chicken and add the oregano, parsley and basil. Stir to combine. Add the artichoke hearts, red peppers and olives to the chicken mixture and combine.
Serve the chicken salad on fresh ciabatta rolls or over lettuce leaves for a perfect salad.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Football: Beans & Poppers

This calico bean recipe is from my grandma.  Since we cooked the calico beans in the crockpot, the first taste was really sweet.  But then my dad decided to take of the lid and let them sit without a cover for a couple hours.  This decision was positive because it allowed for the beans to absorb all the flavors and to even out between savory and sweet.

Calico Beans
from my grandma, Martha
1/2 lb. of Hamburger, browned
1/2 lb of bacon, cooked crispy
2 medium onions, chopped
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp dry mustard
2 cans pork and beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can lima beans

Brown the hamburger in a skillet and cook the bacon until crisp.  Chop the onions.  Dump all ingredients into a crockpot* and let it sit on low overnight or bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.  

*Since we cooked ours in a crockpot we doubled the batch, except we kept the same amount of onions (only 2) and just one can of lima beans.

These jalepeno poppers are interesting because they are not the typical deep fried jalepenos filled with cream cheese.  They are actually healthier (if bacon can be healthy) because they are stuffed with chicken breast and wrapped with a piece of bacon.

Jalepeno Poppers
Chicken breast
Mexican seasoning
Cut jalepenos in half and core out seeds.
Insert a small piece of uncooked chicken breast.
Sprinkle with mexican seasoning on top.
Wrap with a piece of bacon, and insert a toothpick to hold it together.
Grill or bake until cooked through (about 20 minutes or so).
Sprinkle with cheese, and enjoy!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Spinach, Red Pepper, Mushroom and Feta Quiche

This quiche initially was not supposed to have mushrooms, but I did not have another jar of pimentos and I was too lazy to go to the store again so I substituted with mushrooms I found in my pantry.  And somehow we ran out of parmesan cheese (probably from when I made my beans) so I found some shredded asiago and used that in place.  This turned out well, its probably my favorite quiche so far.  The key is to find the perfect center because the crust is always irresistible.


Spinach, Red Pepper, Mushroom and Feta Quiche

adapted from Food Network


  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 (4-ounce) jar chopped pimentos, excess liquid squeezed out
  • 1 (4-ounce) jar shitake mushrooms, excess liquid removed
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen leaf spinach, thawed, excess liquid squeezed out and chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta


Preheat oven to to 375 degrees F.
In a large skillet, heat oil over moderate heat. Add onion and cook until softened. Turn up heat to moderately high. Add pimentos, garlic, and spinach and cook, stirring until just heated through. Drain off any excess liquid. Beat the eggs in a bowl and add the Parmesan and milk. Add the spinach mixture and feta, and pour into the pie shell. Bake on a sheet pan in the middle of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until just set.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

SF Picnic and Ike's

To celebrate my birthday, Julian and I went to San Francisco where I packed a picnic for us to have at the Golden Gate Park.


Along with sandwiches, watermelon and grapes, I made this bean salad to take along with us:

Since I didn't have White Balsamic Vinaigrette, I substituted with regular balsamic vinegar because I researched that the main difference was a sweeter taste in balsamic vinegar and that the white provides a more aesthetic appeal because of its neutral color. Based on my changes, my main suggestion would be to use less dijon if you don't want such a strong mustardy flavor.

Bean Salad with White Balsamic Vinaigrette
From Angela Tunner's Simply Summer

1 can (16 ounces) chickpeas
1 can (16 ounces) white beans
1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans
2 teaspoons minced garlic (I used about 2 cloves)
1 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste
1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon dried tarragon (I had fresh, and used a little more)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)
Pepper, to taste
Fresh lemon juice (optional, to taste)

Basically this is a dump and mix recipe (of the highest order, of course!).  Drain the beans and rinse them off in a colander so you get rid of all that slimy stuff they're canned in.  Then put them in a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.  Since canned beans aren't as sturdy as dried, be careful while you mix so as not to break up the beans.  Squirt with a little lemon juice if you'd like before serving.

Later in the evening, after our picnic and shopping, we ended the night by going to Ike's Place, a sandwich shop I saw Adam Richman visit on his San Francisco episode of Man v. Food.  This wasn't the place where Adam faced a challenge, but it was just one of the pigout stops before he encountered the "Kitchen Sink" at the San Francisco Creamery in Walnut Creek.  Ike's Place offers a set of sandwiches listed on the board, but then the guy offered us to look at the "Sandwich Bible" which had an overwhelming 188 different meat sandwiches, and also an additional number of vegatarian and vegan choices.  I ordered the [Name of the girl I'm dating] sandwich which had Halal chicken breast, honey mustard, avocado and pepperjack cheese on dutch crunch bread.  It was seriously the best sandwich I have ever had. It wasn't like a big hunk of chicken, and it wasn't just slices of meat.  Some how it seemed to break up apart as I bit into it and I don't even know how to explain the flavor!  They make their own bread and add a "dirty sauce," like a garlic aoili, that they bake into the bread.  The only problem was that we went around 9pm, and the place is so small the only seating is outside.  There were only 3 tables, all of which were taken up.  So we got our order to go and devoured/indulged ourselves in Julian's car.  But seriously, these sandwiches were so good I could have enjoyed one anywhere.

3506 16th St
(between Prosper St & Sanchez St)
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 553-6888

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My Birthday

I've been wanting to get a standing mixer for a while, I even declared it my dream appliance.  Since I'm moving into an apartment off-campus, my dad took me out last night to look at different appliances.  He gave me the option of getting multiple little items like a blender, food processor and hand mixer.  Or, since I will probably be baking a lot, a standing mixer.  Well today, that's exactly what I got!  After work I headed over to Best Buy and picked up my little baby.
To celebrate my birthday we went to my favorite sushi place, Sushi Garden, and then walked over to Marie Calendars to get dessert, and I of course shared my favorite with Julian. He didn't believe me that the soupy leftovers would be any good re-frozen, but I stand to prove him wrong!

Lunchtime Retry

This is my version, and my attempt to replicate Julian's lunchtime surprise.  Instead of white bread and american cheese, I used sourdough bread and swiss cheese.  I also used a chicken burger patty with bacon and cheddar flavors instead of a regular burger patty.  I made this for both Julian and my dad, and although I did not taste it, my dad assured me that he really enjoyed it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

White Chocolate Walnut Cookies

From the time I tasted this batter I knew, these cookies will be good.

White Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies
adopted from recipe posted on

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large egg
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
12 oz. white chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts chopped and toasted

Adjust the oven rack to the top third of the oven and preheat to 300°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Beat the sugars and butters together until smooth. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and baking soda.

Mix the flour into the batter. Then stir in the white chocolate chips and nuts.

Scoop the cookie dough into 2 tablespoon balls onto prepared baking sheet, spacing the balls about 4-in apart. I used two tablespoon scoops and mashed them together and dropped them on to the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Italian-inspired Salad

For dinner I made a salad with sliced black olives, roasted zucchini, tomatoes and artichoke tapenade (available at Costco) topped with an Italian dressing. The key point is to roast the zucchini because it really takes on a different taste than when it is raw. I sliced the zucchini and coated it with olive oil cooking spray, sprinkled some salt and pepper on top and put it in the oven at 350 degrees Farenheit for about 20 minutes. About halfway through, so about 10 minutes, I flipped them over to prevent one side from cooking more than the other.