Monday, March 29, 2010

A Break in the Action!

We're going to take a brief, two week hiatus over here at Deliciousness of Yum. We have Spring Break, work overload, and looking for work overload all hitting us at once and need a bit of a writing break to survive it. But don't worry: We have plenty of ideas brewing for upcoming posts, new recipes, etc. So...enjoy the next two weeks without us, but be sure to come back on April 12th!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Coffee Break!

Arosa Espresso
1310 Madison St
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 329-5881

Today my friend took me out to coffee and a waffle - not just any coffee and waffle though, the very best in Seattle! My coworkers have been raving about Arosa Espresso and the "waffle man's" mocha's. Since it is my last week, I finally decided to give it a try and I wish I had much sooner!

We walked up the hill to this little shop (across the street from a Starbucks) and walked in to the smells of fresh made Belgium waffles and chocolate. Next to the espresso machine, there was a bucket of grated chocolate the the Batista used when he steamed the milk. There were also bags of the grated chocolate for sale - I thought seriously about buying one!

The waffles are coated in crystallized sugar and were truly scrumptious! Then there was the mocha! Liquid silk and the the chocolate was both bitter and sweet and unlike the syrup that most places use. I am a convert and would make a special trip to get another cup of this coffee! It really took me back to drinks that I had in Germany, where you were served little pieces of chocolate for your coffee - it would melt and add a new layer of flavor.

So, thank you Melissa and Lula for introducing me to Arosa Espresso! You were both right about it being the absolute best. If you find yourself on First Hill stop in and have waffle and a mocha or make a special trip - it is worth it!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Delicious Buttery Bars

Mom made these last week for a dessert. When I first heard her describe as "strawberry bars" I wasn't too excited, then I had one and then another. They turned out to be very delicious and melted in my mouth with a cup of coffee. I also really liked them for breakfast the following morning.

Mom definitely turned me into a strawberry bar convert. She got the recipe from Land O'Lakes and the original recipe calls for raspberry preserves (Mom substituted strawberry), but you could use your favorite and I am sure it would be equally good!

Old-World Raspberry Bars
Crumb Mixture:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup Land O'Lakes butter, softened
1 egg

1 (10 ounce) jar raspberry preserves or your favorite flavor preserves
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In large mixer bowl, combine all crumb mixture ingredients. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until mixture is crumbly (2 to 3 minutes). Reserve 1 1/2 cups crumb mixture; set aside.
  2. Press remaining crumb mixture on bottom of greased 8- or 9-inch square baking pan. Spread preserves to within 1/2 inch of edge. Crumble reserved crumb mixture over preserves.
  3. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely; cut into bars.
These pack well and would make you the hero of the office if you brought them in to share during a coffee break!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Food seems to be tied to our emotional states. We use it as a way to celebrate - like birthday cakes, Christmas cookies, chocolate hearts & bunnies. We use it to define us - everyone has at least one dish that they are "famous" for, if you are lucky you might have more. We use food to bring back memories and to help us through hard times or to just come together. It is funny, there are times when I can close my eyes and taste a food - for me that is a craving.

When I am stressed, I tend to want greasy burgers and fries (with lots of sauce to dip in). When I am cranky, it's chocolate and when I am happy, I love to cook and be creative in the kitchen. Lately, I have been wanting those burgers and fries!

I am about to embark on a new phase of my life; I am leaving my job of 13 years and don't have any other plans for the future, yet. The funny part is that I am mostly at peace with the decision and that in leaving, I am looking to share the last few days with my coworkers and also to have some of the food that I have come to love and even crave. So now in my last days, I have been indulging in spicy chicken, chicken katsu with tempura & California rolls and my very favorite - gyros from First Hill Bar and Grill. I am even looking forward to my goodbye cake!

So on to the next chapter of my life and hopefully I can make some new favorite places with new friends and coworkers! Wish me luck!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Gloppy Goodness In A Skillet

Every Friday night, we get together as a family and have pizza or some type of casserole. One of our favorite meals we can only describe as gloppy taco in a skillet.

The recipe is from Campbell's soup; it is easy, quick to make and a family favorite. The official name is Beef Taco Skillet and I highly recommend it with a salad!

Here is the recipe (straight from Campbell's):

1 lb. ground beef
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Campbell's Tomato Soup
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup water
6 flour tortillas (6"), cut into 1" pieces
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  1. Cook beef in 10" skillet until well browned, stirring to break up meat. Pour off fat.
  2. Stir in soup, salsa, water and tortillas. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Stir. Top with cheese. Makes 4 servings.
Whenever we make this at our house, we use crunchy tortilla chips, not the soft ones. This adds a bit of crunch to the dish. We also add in some chopped onions when we brown the beef - adds a bit more flavor too.

You can top this with anything you like to add to tacos - I think that fresh avocado and a little sour cream would be good. However, if you make this straight from the recipe, I don't think that you would be disappointed!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cookbook Corner: The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever

I was browsing through my local Barnes and Nobel the other night and happened upon a decent looking cookbook, The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever. I flipped through it and saw, on initial inspection, several tempting recipes. The $25 dollar price tag made me put the book back on the shelf. Then the next day, I happened to be at one of my favorite places, Half Price Books, and noticed that they had several copies of The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever for the low-low price of $9.98. Needless to say I snapped up a copy, pleased that I got it for less than half of B&N's price. Go me!

What to expect: Boasting over 500 recipes, the book includes sections on: Casserole Basics, Appetizer Casseroles, Casserole Breads, Breakfast & Brunch Casseroles, Poultry Casseroles, Beef Casseroles, Pork Casseroles, Lamb, Veal and Game Casseroles, Grains and Legume Casseroles, Fish and Shellfish Casseroles, Casseroles for Kids, Dessert Casseroles...and on and on and on. I think you get the idea.

The recipes are easy to follow and don't require a lot of difficult techniques or fancy ingredients. Many of the dishes can be made ahead of time and thrown in the oven when ready to cook, which is nice for busy people (and really--who isn't pressed for time these days?).

Best recipes: I've only just started going through this book, but there are tons of yummy recipes, like the Eggplant and Garlic Slather I featured recently. Here are a few more that I want to try:
  • Chicken, Polenta, and Morel Casserole (pg. 148)
  • Beef with Mushrooms (pg. 224)
  • Pasta Baked with Cheese and Stout (pg. 324)
  • Barley and Mushroom Casserole (pg. 330)
  • Orzo Chicken for Two (pg. 546)
Complaints: Some of the recipes tend to get a bit repetitive, but that's just the way it goes. There are not a lot of photos in this book, but that's not a reason to walk away from the book. Overall, it's a simple, unpretentious book that features a ton of family-friendly (if not overly inventive) casseroles.

Deliciousness Scale: 4 spoonfuls of yum out of 5.

Details: This review is based on the 2008 edition of The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever by Beatrice Ojakangas (photos by Susie Cushner); ISBN 978-0-8118-5624-9.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

There's an App for That....

I've been a proud iPhone owner for over a year. In that year, I got my husband to switch from a Blackberry to an iPhone and even got my sister hooked on the handy gadget. In my year+, I've also purchased (and deleted) my fair share of apps.

In case you're like my mother and you're not particularly tech savvy, an "app" is an application (or, as my mom said, all those colorful little buttons on my screen) that provides specific information, games, etc. And there are a ton of apps for foodies.

Here are three of my favorites. If you're a cook, an eater, or all-around food lover and you have an iPhone, check these out. There are a ton of other apps I haven't even brushed on, so if YOUR favorite isn't on this list, let me know--leave me a comment. I always love discovering new things!
  • Martha's Everyday Food (.99): This app features a highlighted dinner recipe each night (called Dinner Tonight) and a searchable database of recipes from Everyday Food. You can save favorite recipes, email them to friends, and even send the recipe to your shopping list. With help from the website ZipList, doing this generates a shopping list which is super handy. For a buck you can't ask for much more--as Martha would say: it's a good thing.
  • All Recipes (free): This is a bit less sophisticated than the Martha Stewart app (of course!) but it features a fun, handy Dinner Spinner. You just select options from a handful of categories, tell it to "spin" and a bunch of recipes fitting your criteria are displayed. This app includes a lot of user feedback and the recipes are easy and good for everyday dinners. Recipes come from the All Recipes website and, like Martha's app, you can save your favorites.

  • Epicurious (free):'s website (the site that tied in with now-defunct Gourmet magazine) is one of my favorite food sites. Their app is decent. You can search their database of recipes and save favorites. You can also use the site to make your shopping list. Like the Epicurious site, there are a lot of user comments for each recipe, and these comments can be very helpful in suggesting substitutions and simplifications.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Crappy iPhone Photo--please forgive me!

I had the whole family over for dinner the other night, and to start things off, I made a new recipe from an awesome casserole book I found at Half Price Books (I'll tell you about that later!). I want to go back and make some changes to this recipe, but it was pretty tasty as is. And not a completely fattening way to start the meal.

I like this recipe because it can be made ahead and then thrown into the oven when guests arrive. It's so easy, so that's also a plus!


1 large eggplant or several small Japanese eggplants, totaling about 1 1/2 pounds
Olive Oil
2 whole heads garlic
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chopped basil
3 Tablespoons non-fat plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Toasted French bread slices for serving
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Cut a few slits in the eggplant and rub with oil. Place in a small roasting pan/baking sheet.
  • Drizzle about 1 tsp olive oil over the garlic cloves and wrap them in foil. Place the foil packet in the roasting pan with the eggplant.
  • Roast for at least an hour, until the eggplant wrinkles and starts to collapse. Remove from oven and let cool for about 30 minutes (or until cool enough to work with).
  • Cut eggplant in half and scrape the pulp into the bowl of a food processor. Squeeze garlic cloves from their skins into the food processor. Add vinegar, yogurt, basil, salt and pepper. Process until almost smooth.
  • Spray a small, shallow baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Pour half of the eggplant mixture into the baking dish. Top with half of the Parmesan cheese.
  • Pour the remaining eggplant mixture over the Parmesan cheese. (Slather can be made to this point a day ahead of time. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.)
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400.
  • Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over the top of the slather.
  • Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes or until bubbly.
  • Serve immediately with crunchy, toasted bread.
  • I used my favorite yogurt, Greek yogurt for this. It's thicker and creamier than the cheap store brand stuff.
  • This is weird, but I do not like basil. I substituted with fresh parsley.
  • I would love to add roasted red pepper to this.
  • Perhaps instead of yogurt, you could use goat cheese, cream cheese, or creme fraiche?
  • To go more Mediterranean, maybe you could try mint or oregano instead of basil and add in some feta. The possibilities are endless!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Just in Time for St. Patty's Day

A few months ago I was flipping through my copy of Feast by Nigella Lawson. I came across many recipes I wanted to try, but was especially intrigued by her Chocolate Guinness much so that I added "MAKE NIGELLA'S GUINNESS CAKE" in my calendar on my iPhone.

Since St. Patrick's Day is just a few days from now, I decided to make this black beauty over the weekend. I served it to my family and received rave reviews. My dad even said it was the best chocolate cake he'd ever had. Not bad. The Guinness adds a depth of flavor to the cake that's subtle but delicious. You won't bite into this and say "wow--this takes like beer", but there is a malty, nutty, deep flavor that's very good.

This is one of the easiest cakes I've ever had the pleasure to make. The ingredients are few and simple, and I really think it makes a difference to use the best ingredients possible. Make sure you use full-fat sour cream (I used my mom's favorite brand, Daisy)--cakes are never the time to skimp on flavor just to save a few calories.

Before you get cooking, take time to read over the recipe. I prepped myself before turning on my oven or stove. I had everything ready and waiting for me so I could work fast. The cake batter comes together extremely fast, so being set up ahead of time really helped.

Here's the recipe. This is a new family favorite and I imagine I'll be making this many, many times.

Makes 1 9" cake (about 12 slices)

Cake Ingredients
1 cup Guinness
1 stick plus 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Getting ready
  • Preheat oven to 350. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9" springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
  • Measure out cocoa and sugar--stir together in a small bowl and set aside.
  • In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla. Set aside.
  • In a third bowl, mix the flour and baking soda together. Set aside.
Making the cake
  • Pour the Guinness into a large, wide saucepan. Add the butter and cook over medium-low heat, letting the butter melt. Whisk from time to time.
  • When the butter is melted, add the cocoa and sugar to the pan. Whisk well. Pull the saucepan off heat.
  • Add the sour cream/eggs/vanilla mixture to the Guinness and cocoa powder mixture in the saucepan; whisk well.
  • Add the flour/baking soda to the saucepan and whisk together quickly.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and bake 45 minutes to an hour. The cake will pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted to the center should come out with a few crumbs on it.
  • Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for several hours. Remove the sides of the pan, flip the cake over, and remove the bottom of the springform pan. Peel off the parchment paper.
  • When the cake is completely cooled, set it on a cake plate or serving plate to ice.
For the Topping
Note: You don't have to add the icing, but it's really, really good. Plus the lovely white layer of icing on top of the black cake sort of looks like a pint of Guinness.

8 ounces Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Place the cream cheese in the bowl of your mixer and beat for a few minutes.
  • Add the confectioners' sugar and whip well.
  • Pour in the heavy cream and continue to mix until the icing is smooth and spreadable.
  • Ice just the top of the cake as you like.
  • Devour!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cookbook Corner: Small Batch Baking

I've mentioned it before, but I am a cookbook fiend. I have zillions of them lying around and I really believe that you can never have too many. It's just not possible.

I also think it's not always fair to judge a book by its cover. If that were the case, the scary lady with the tiny cakes on the cover of Small Batch Baking would have scared me off for sure. But I'm glad I didn't let her get in my way because this book fits a niche.

I live in a two person household and I love to bake. What I don't love, however, is having dozens of cookies, pounds of cake, or tons of muffins to eat. With just two people, we never get through a full batch of anything and that means I'm giving stuff away or throwing stuff away. Not cool.

What to expect: The first part of the book gives hints for baking for less than an army. Debby Maugans Nakos has a technique for baking cakes in recycled tin cans, which is both frightening and frugal. The rest of the book is broken down into the following chapters:
  • Beautiful Small Cakes
  • Pies and Tarts
  • Cookies and Bars
  • Crumbly, Sweet and Fruity: Cobblers, Crisps, Crumbles, and Shortcakes
  • Baked Puddings
  • Sweet and Savory Muffins and Breads
  • Valentine Specials
  • Holiday Goodies You Can't Live Without
Best recipes:
  • Chocolate Birthday Cake with Double Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting, page 16
  • Bake Sale Lemon Meringue Pie, page 130
  • Flaky Cherry Cobbler, page 220
  • Rustic Bacon Biscuits, page 318
  • Peanut Butter Tarts, page 374
  • Southern Pecan Pie, page 430
Complaints: Apart from the scary lady on the cover? I don't love the cookie section of this book. The recipes yield less than half a dozen cookies and that seems, well, like a waste of time. There are no photos in this book, which doesn't really bother me, though it would be nice to see some of these things in their final form.

Deliciousness Scale: 3 spoonfuls of yum out of five. Like I said, this really is a niche book, but it works for me and my family.

Details: This review is based on the 2004 edition of Small Batch Baking by Debby Maugans Nakos, ISBN 9780761130352.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Making Memories

Have you ever noticed how memories are forged around the table? Today for lunch we had cold cuts (Havarti cheese, turkey, and salami) served on paper plates and this simple meal brought back lunches at my Gaga's in Ocean City, MD. My son even thinks of her when we have do-it-yourself sandwiches.

Growing up, we always came together at our dining room table - a round oak table set with a table cloth, forks, spoons, knifes, folded napkins and candles, I thought all families ate like this. We brought tales of our days, arguments, laughs, tears, and of course food. Now we have a bigger table, but it is always set the same way and now we are building new memories as our family has grown.

For me, dinner is both my favorite meal and time to come together with my family and friends. I love sharing crappy pizza on Friday nights, baked chicken and mac-n-cheese, fancy meals from cookbooks, casseroles, and everything else that comes to the table. One of my greatest hopes is to pass on the tradition of turning off the TV and sitting down for a time together and sharing stories and a meal with my son.

So remember to take the time to sit together and share some memories - good, bad, and everything in between. Don't forget to light the candles!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rules for Eating

Because I am something of a nerd, I listen to NPR whenever I'm in my car. I love hearing all the stories and different points of view they broadcast--it gets me through my daily commute.

On today's drive home, there was a story called Rules for Eating, and if you have 5 minutes to spare, I suggest you click over to the story and take a listen for yourself. Anyway, to sum up the story, we all have weird rules when it comes to eating. Or more specifically, we have weird rules when it comes to eating "healthy." We tend to think of food as being in two extreme camps: it will either kill us or make us healthy. There's very little gray area involved.

The story goes on to introduce us to Michael Pollan's book, "Food Rules: An Eater's Manual." Pollan argues that the rules of healthful eating are simple: eat food...not too much...mostly plants. His book includes 64 easy sounding rules for eating, like if it's advertised on TV, don't eat it; don't eat anything that won't eventually rot (with the exception of honey); don't buy food where you buy gasoline.

Now, what Pollan is saying here is that it's best to eat real foods--foods that come from a plant rather than being made in a plant. It's OK to eat and to enjoy eating, but we should also be giving more thought into what and how we eat.

The NPR story is a good one--it's thought provoking and entertaining, basically everything I love in a good NPR story. Take a listen and then let us know if you have any weird rules for eating.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Birthday Treats

This past weekend was my son's 8th birthday and I let him pick his favorite foods to celebrate. He is a funny kid and does not like to eat much - including cake. So for his birthday, we had his famous Tachos (Tacos and Nachos) for dinner and Mammy's famous homemade brownies for dessert.

Here is my Mom's recipe for making brownies - growing up, this was it (no box brownies ever). The first time I made these, I misread the instructions and added 2 sticks of butter - yuck! I had to toss out this batch and start over.


2 squares (2oz) unsweetened chocolate
1/3 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional - Aidan says NO to nuts)
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a square pan 8x8x2".
  • Melt chocolate and butter together over low heat. Beat in (with spoon) sugar and eggs.
  • Measure flour by dipping method. Blend flour, baking powder + salt, stir into chocolate mixture. Mix in nuts and chocolate chips. Spread in pan.
  • Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until top has dull crust. A slight imprint will remain when touched lightly with finger.
  • Cool slightly. Cut into 2" squares.
I love a light dusting of powdered sugar to top these off and a large, cold glass of milk!

The dinner was delicious - Tachos are always a winner in my house and the brownies too were a treat! The best part of the evening was celebrating my little boy's special day with family and friends.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cookbook Corner: Baker's Companion

Continuing on the baking kick I've been on lately, I thought it would be a good time to introduce you to one of my favorite baking cookbooks. If you ever want to buy me a cookbook and you're not sure what to get me, a baking book is always a great idea. I have many a baking book, and as a rule I love them all, for different reasons.

This book comes from The King Arthur Flour people, and if you've ever used King Arthur flour, you know how nice their products are. They also have a really fun shop in Vermont that I look forward to visiting when I'm back in the Green Mountain State. These people know their baking stuff...if you just follow their advice, you're going to do just fine.

A lot of people are intimidated by baking, but I really think that's silly. When it comes to doing it right, just be sure to read the recipe through a couple of times before you get cooking and take your time.

Now on to the book!

What to expect: The book starts with a great overview on measuring, and even if you're an experienced baker, you can learn a thing or two by reading this section. The rest of the book is broken down into chapters filled with recipes on:
  • Breakfasts
  • Fried Doughs
  • Quick Breads
  • Buckles, Cobblers, and Crisps
  • Crackers and Flatbreads
  • Yeast Breads
  • Sourdough
  • Cookies and Bars
  • Cakes
  • Pies, Tarts, and Quiches
  • Pastry and Viennoiserie
Best Recipes: here are five of my favorites:
  • Cinnamon Puffs, page 67
  • Scallion Cheddar Scones, page 121
  • Devil's Food Cake, page 345
  • Almond Puff Loaf, page 99
  • Basic White Bread, page 198
Complaints: There are not a ton of pictures in this book, and when it comes to baked goods, looking at them is so inspiring. Oh well. Also, you really, really, really need to read the full recipes through at least once or twice so you know what's going on. They don't specify if butter or other ingredients should be at room temperature, so reading the full recipe is mandatory. But the pros with this book outweigh the cons.

Deliciousness Scale: 4 spoon fulls of yum out of 5. I think this would be an awesome wedding or housewarming gift.

Details: This review is based on the First Edition of the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion, ISBN 0-88150-581-1, published in 2003.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Family Tradition - Breakfast For Dinner

Growing up, there was always one dinner that Lydia and I could look forward to - pancakes with all the fixings (and yes, I did say dinner).

I know that pancakes is the traditional fare for Shrove Tuesday (or Fat Tuesday), but from time to time we would have a full breakfast for dinner. When we did, we would have homemade pancakes (courteous of Jiffy Mix), bacon or Taylor's pork roll, Del Monte fruit cup (yuck!) and Mrs. Butterworth's syrup (super yuck!). Now that Mom and Dad have lived in Vermont, we eat nothing but real maple syrup and Del Monte has been replaced with fresh fruit - both are a very welcome improvement!

Basic Pancake Recipe

Whisk together in a large bowl:
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Whisk together in another bowl:
1 1/2 cup milk
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
  1. Prepare and preheat the griddle by melting butter over medium heat (350 degrees).
  2. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently stir them together, mixing just until combined.
  3. Ladle or pour the batter on to the griddle.
  4. When the top of the pancake is speckled with bubbles and the underside is golden, turn the pancake over.
  5. Cook until the second side is lightly browned.
As a Mom, I am always looking for a meal that brings smiles (instead of screams) to the table and this meal is definitely a winner! The nice thing is, you can doctor the meal up anyway you like. Add eggs, add fruit to the pancake recipe, through in some veggies (shredded potatoes, carrots and zucchini hash), have some ham, etc. - it's all good!