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Author Archives: Junior Chef Project

And so it begins…

Competition. Where do I begin? I feel as if every time I try to explain, no one really fully understands. So, I will try my best. 
It’s called ODACS, which stands for “Old Dominion Association of Christian Schools”. Basically, christian schools from all over the Nation compete with Fine Arts at different levels, and different rounds. There’s Regionals, State, and Nationals. You can compete with music, acting, writing, and any kind of art. All of that good stuff. It’s really fun actually. You get to do some pretty awesome stuff. I’m competing in quite a few different group categories, and a small instrumental ensemble with some friends. I’m also entering some photos in for the Photography category. Here they are for you to see: ImageImageI really like them. I’m not sure if I’ll get very far with them, but, my goal is to place at State with at least one of them. I think that would be awesome.
Anyways, moving on. I’m really looking forward to competition this year. It’s approaching a LOT more faster than it did last year, but it’s going to be great! I honestly feel a little unprepared, but, hopefully everything will work out. 
We have our Regional group competition coming up on Tuesday, and then Regionals for everything else is next Monday. I’m not sure when State is, but it normally follows two or three weeks after Regionals. 
I’m really excited for everything in store for my school this year. We are successful every year, and I’m so looking forward to what we pull off this year! 

I’m basically writing this post because I’m going to be extremely busy this week with all kinds of stuff. But I wanted you guys to have a little peak and what I’ll be doing. Plus, I hadn’t posted in a while, and thought I was about due for one. Thanks for reading, and I’ll be sure to keep you guys posted on how competition is going! 

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Well, hey there.

So… I’ve kind of abandoned this blog, but I’ve been in the mood to write, and I really want to try to start this back up again.

First off, I would like to apologize to those who did enjoy reading my blog. I’m sorry for leaving you guys in the dust. I’m a little mad at myself for practically quitting something I cared so much about. So, I’m sorry.

Moving on, I would like to explain that cooking is still my passion. Something I still dream of pursuing. Something I wouldn’t mind doing for the rest of my life. But… there’s another thing that’s kind of consuming my life (in a good way) right now. Music. Most of you know that I play violin. And, I am quite frankly really enjoying that right now. I have for a while. For the past couple of months, I haven’t really been working on anything in particular. Working on a solo piece for a recital coming up, working on a duet with my teacher. Nothing out of the ordinary. But competition season is approaching at my school, and we’re all working really hard to get everything together in time. I’m working on a trio with two other friends of mine at school, that I’m hoping and praying we get to Nationals with. Other than all that, that’s pretty much it. It doesn’t sound like much, but… practicing takes up a lot of my time during the day.
I’m sure you all understand that I lead a busy life. It’s stressful and crazy, but luckily, I still have time to get out and have fun, and spend time with people I love.

So, now that we have that out of the way, I want to update you on what’s going on with the whole cooking thing. As I said, I still love it. Actually… I adore it. With a passion. And it’s strange that I haven’t been doing much of it. It’s a little confusing sometimes. I’m just in the weird, busy time of life right now… trying to focus on one thing. And I’ve been focusing so much on school and music, that it kind of scares me to even think about trying to focus on cooking too. But I love it, and it’s my dream. What I love about cooking, is it will be there when I graduate high school. It’s probably something that’s easier to pursue after high school anyways. It’s still amazing. I still get in the kitchen every once and a while, and I just cook. I clear my mind of every little thing going on in my life, and I just cook. You’re moving around the whole time. Chopping your vegetables, oiling your pan, throwing something in the oven, and mixing and stirring, chopping and cleaning dirty dishes along the way. You get in this flow where all you care about is for this meal to be perfect. There’s nothing else in the world. Just you and your kitchen. And that’s what I love about it. I’m not thinking about anything while I’m cooking. And when I’m done, I feel so relaxed. I sit down, and take a bite and you feel so… well… happy! I think to myself “Wow! I did that!” It may sound strange but really… what makes a meal is the love and thought you put into it. And you end up feeling proud of it. And that’s why cooking is special to me. It clears my mind. It’s like the steam coming from the stove is absorbing every little thought going through my mind, and takes it away. Again, it may sound strange… but it’s really just because I absolutely love cooking (I swear I’ve said that like.. 20 times in this post!).  I’m writing this basically to let you know (if you still care) that I still care about cooking. I still dream of one day finding my place in the crazy world of culinary. It’s my dream. Something I long to do. And because of that, I want you guys to be here to witness that. If it ends up working out, of course. 🙂

Image“Food will come, Remy. Food always comes to those who love to cook” -Chef Gusteau, from the movie “Ratatouille”

Chicken & Gnocchi Soup(:

There’s so much I want to say, I don’t even know where to start!  The title of this post explains most of what I did tonight! I made Chicken & Gnocchi soup!
A few months ago, my friends & I went to Olive Garden for lunch on Sunday afternoon, & we did the soup & salad deal. Not knowing what “gnocchi” was, I went ahead & ordered it anyways. The waitress asked what I wanted, & I said “The chicken & ganochee soup, please”. She looked at me & said “you mean nochi” (obviously, neither of those “examples” are the way you spell it, but I want you to know how to say it before you keep on reading).  Then, I went on to say “Yeah, what you said!” She was very polite, & was patient with my learning new ingredients. I read the menu while I waited, & it explain what gnocchi was. They’re little dumplings, that have potatoes, cheese, flour, egg, & various other ingredients in them. You can use them in different Italian dishes. Then I thought to myself “well, they must be good if there’s potatoes AND cheese in them!” So we waited, then after a few minutes… there is was. There was what I was waiting for, for my whole life. What made my life complete. Chicken & Gnocchi soup. I took my spoon, dipped it in the bowl, brought it to my mouth, then tasted. And that moment… that one moment…. was perfect. The world disappeared for that one moment. The way the thyme, parsley, & nutmeg burst in my mouth is indescribable. Anyways… my my my… don’t you just love those moments you get so caught up in reminiscing, you forget you’re writing on a blog?… yeah, I didn’t think so. 😉
So, getting to the part where I decided to make chicken & gnocchi soup. Me & my mom were out the other day, & we drove by Olive Garden. I jokingly said “Ooo! mom, lets go to Olive Garden!!!” She immediately said no… yes, I was sad. But then I got the idea… since chicken & gnocchi soup was what I wanted, I thought maybe I should make it. Because I knew you could find “copy-cat” recipes on the internet, I knew I’d make it! 🙂 My mom & I went into Trader Joe’s to pick up some stuff we needed, & as we were walking, something caught my eye. It was a pack of gnocchi! I freaked out! “MOM! MOM! MOM!!!! GNOCCHI!! CAN I GET IT?!?! PLEASE!?!” (Yes, I did sound like a little girl who wanted to buy a new stuffed animal, or a piece of candy… & I’m not very proud of that…) She said yes, just to shut me up. I was the happiest girl in the world!
Okay, so I guess it’s time to tell you how I made it. I started with veggies (the same way you do with every soup). I sauted onions, & celery with some butter & EVOO. Then I added flour & made a “roux” I think they called it. & I probably shouldn’t say this, but I will anyways… I have no idea what I roux is. I just put the flour in with the veggies & hoped for the best! 🙂 Then I put in a quart of half & half. I let that thicken up, as I cooked the chicken & gnocchi. The chicken wasn’t very hard. Just threw it in the magic pot & microwaved for about 10 minutes. The gnocchi went in a pot of boiling water for about 3 minutes (another thing I love about it! Takes like 2 seconds!! :D)  Then, I added 14 ounces of vegetable broth (should have been chicken, but it doesn’t matter), & let it thicken up. Then, came the chicken, gnocchi, parsley, & thyme! 🙂 Annnnd thennn!!!!…. it was done!!!!!!! 😀 & I ate it! & it was good! 🙂
So, that’s my story about soup! And I’m sorry, I can’t explain to you how it tasted… you must make it yourself! It’s so easy, & delicious! It’s so worth it!

Bon Appetite! 🙂

 

A Birthday Dinner

Today was a cookin’ kinda day! With the rain falling outside & a warm house, it was a perfect day to spend in the kitchen. But, it being Saturday, I did sleep in! 🙂 Ahh, the joys of the weekend! Anyyyways…. here’s the menu [& actually, a lot of the credit goes to my mom]:
Spicy Pop Pulled Pork (Recipe from Ree Drummond a.k.a. “The Pioneer Woman)
Au Gratin Potatoes (Recipe also from Ree Drummond)
Brussel Sprouts
Rolls
& the very best part… Grandma Gorman’s Chocolate Cake!!!! Yes yes! You heard me! Chocolate cakee! Mmm mmm!!!
So pretty much what we did with the pork was cooked it for a few hours with some onions, carrots, & red chili peppers! 🙂 It was very good… yes! It was delightful! There was a little kick of spice to it, but not too much. Just enough to make your mouth go *POP*!
As far the the Au Gratin potatoes go… well, just try to recipe. It’s worth it!
What we did with the brussel sprouts was we put a little grapeseed oil on top of them & baked them in the oven. They were very good!
So… lets get real you guys… the cake! What I did was started with melting down some unsweetened chocolate & butter. As that was happening, I whipped up some eggs & sugar into a creamy little sugary goodness [:)]. Then I got a bowl & mixed the flour & salt together, then in another bowl, I got the milk & baking soda stirred together. Once the chocolate was melted, I added that into the egg & sugar mixture. Then added the flour & milk into that. Divided the batter into two pans & popped it into the oven!
While the cakes were baking, I cleaned the kitchen (twice!) & helped out with some other things. Then the cakes come out & cooled. While they were cooling I made the  frosting! So, before I tell you how I made it, I’m going to write this as a note to self if I ever make this again… even if you don’t think it’s big deal about sifting the powdered sugar or not… just go ahead & do it. I didn’t sift the powdered sugar before I started mixing everything together, but I should have. You ALWAYS have to sift it. Anyways, so I mixed powdered sugar, butter, cocoa powder, & heavy cream, & made a wonderful, gorgeous, delicious frosting!
Then, I frosted the cake! 🙂 & it turned out GAWGEOUS BABY! (even with the un-sifted flour!) 😉
Sooo… you’re probably wondering what we’re doing with all this good. Well, my grandpa’s birthday was last Thursday, so we had my grandparents over for dinner! It was quite a good dinner, & we had a great time with them. 🙂 & an upside… there is a TON of leftovers! 😀 Have I ever mentioned I love cooking?! Well, I do!

So much for being back at it, right?!

Okay, so here we are. It’s 2012, I’ve done so much since the last post, yet haven’t written about ANYTHING!!!

So here’s a short summary: Ham Tortellini has been a favorite around our  house lately. I’ve made it at least 3 times since I last wrote. It’s so delicious! As far as the New Years party goes… this year was definetly  the best! Some friends from church live next door now, so we had a two house party with them, & had lots of people over. So, we pretty much had two parties going on! It was pretty cool. I did prepare food for it! I made the famous Buffalo Chicken dip, peanut butter swirl brownies, & chocolate chip muffins!  So, the guests were very much satisfied. 😉

So, since that’s taken care of, now it’s time to say what’s going on in the present! 🙂
There’s pretty much one word. Music. Yeah… violin, violin, & MORE violin! Tonight was actually the Young Artists Showcase with my violin studio. What we did was for the past few months, we’ve prepared music for a warm-up concert for the Virginia Symphony at the Ferguson Center [hope you got all that!(;].  So I’ve been practicing, going to many rehearsals, & working hard to get all the music ready. It was very advanced. More advanced than before. But, all us kids got it together, & put on a veryyyy good show tonight! & even better… I got a free ticket to see the Virginia Symphony play! Score!
Also in the topic of music… it’s that time of year again. ODACS! [Old Dominion Association of Christian Schools, for those who don’t know] Yep! Except this year, I’m not working on a trio, or duet. I’m going all out with a solo this year! I’ve been working very hard on a concerto for Level 2! & I’m hoping it’s Regional’s & State material. It’s a very advanced song, & nothing like I’ve played before. So in probably a little more than a month, I’ll be playing it for In-House competition, which is just my school, because I am going up against another kid from my school. & if I beat him, then I go to Regional’s, then if I win Regional’s, I’ll go to State! & hopefully win that! 🙂

Sooo, I tend to use this excuse as often as possible, but I really have been focusing on music a lot more, especially with ODACS, so… again, I apologize! But I am making a cake tomorrow! Grandma Gormans Chocolate Cake. It was in Get in There & Cook, so if you were a regular reader, you know what I’m talking about. But for the new readers [shoot, WHAT readers?!] I’ll blog about it again tomorrow! 🙂

Thanks for reading!!!
Until tomorrow,
Dana

I’m Back At It!(:

Dear Readers,

I’m doing it again!(: I’ve cooked two meals this week!!! [and it’s only Wednesday morning!]

Monday night was a fun night. I made my Ham Tortellini!(: Yumm! It was delicious, and there was NO left overs!  I love it when that happens!

So, last night was an… amazingly fun night! And I am going to tell you all about it!…

So I started off making Garlic & Butter mashed potatoes. Can’t get any better than that right? I pretty much made them just like an other mashed potato. Boil the potatoes, with a little garlic unitl fork tender, add some milk & butter, and mash it together. They were a little runny, but that was because I put a little too much milk. Before they were served, I put a little bit of dried basil leaves in it, to give it some more flavor.

Well, while these were cooking, I was preparing my Stuffed Chicken with Bacon, Provolone Cheese, & Spinach. I butterflied (or attempted to butterfly) my chicken tenderloins [which were supposed to be breast, but ahemm… mom got the wrong kind!…]. So, as I got all the chicken prepared, and cut, I realized that the sauce I needed to use for this dish was in my moms car… & she was gone. So I stuffed all my chicken, then just waited. And finally she got home, so then I could move on. So with my bacon, cheese & spinach stuffed chicken, and I put a little Slap Ya Momma seasoning sauce on them. Now this Slap Ya Momma stuff is really hot, so you only need a little but. There is a season powder & a sauce. I used the sauce since that was all we had. It still worked out though!(: So once those were covered with sauce, I put then in a pan with a little hot oil, & sauted them for a few minutes. Once they were brown on both sides, I added 2 and a half cups of vegetable broth (should be chicken, but I didn’t have any), & 2 tablespoons of heavy cream to the chicken in the pan. I stirred it around, then put a lid on it & cooked that for 10 minutes on a low heat. After the ten minutes were done, those stuffed chickens looked & smelled divine! I put them on a plate & left the liquid in there, added a little heatt & flour & let it stay at a rapid boil for a few minutes & made a delicious sauce to go with the potatoes, veggies & chicken. It was amazing! So there ya have it! I’m a Junior Chef again!(: Yay!

So, this might be like the 2 & only meals I’ll be cooking this week, because as of Friday & Saturday I will be busy with Senior Regionals Orchestra! Oh yeah! I actually auditioned for it a few months ago, but that was only to determine it I would make it into the orchestra. On Friday are seating auditions, & I’m really hoping to get first chair, so wish me luck!(:

Thanks for reading… (If I even have readers! lol!)

2 Hours!

Well, I’m back at it! I’m officially a Junior Chef again! after a long couple…( ptshh couple? more like LOT….) mounths! Today, I started my journey through some great recipes from a great lady I met at a womens health conference a few weeks ago. She was all into family cooking, and making food important around the dinner table. She had some great recipes. So I started cooking through some of them. Tonight, I started with the Chili Con Carne! Fancy right?! It’s a mexican chili, that’s really delicious. I started with sauteing some ground beef, onions, red and green peppers, and garlic. Those are the main ingredients. The ones that bring out all the different flavors! Then, I put tomatoes, beans, and other spices in it. (as in, garlic powder, allspice, and others that I can’t quite remember. Pathetic right? i can’t even remember what ingredients I used!) Then that simmered for about an hour and a half. So when that was simmering, I started on my jalepeno poppers. (which are not out of the recipes from the lady I met) Just a recipe from a friend! I took maybe 15 jalepenos, and cut them down the center and cleaned them out. Then I put cream cheese in the middle, and wrapped them in bacon. And to finish it off, put some shredded cheddar cheese on top. Then cooked them for about 20 minutes on 350. I did find though, that I need to cook them a little longer. The peppers were still kind of crunchy.  So while the chili was simmering and the poppers were in the oven, I got to work on my chocolate mouse! I kind of cheated on this one though! I used a mix from the Dove Chocolate company, and just added some whipping cream, and dark chocolate to it, and it was delicious!(:  I stuck that in the fridge, then got to work on my last recipe! (yeah, just one more guys!) I made corn bread. Which I also cheated on. I used a Jiffy mix, and added two eggs, and a can of creamed corn. Not the normal recipe on the back of the box… that’s why I call it my own recipe (well, my moms recipe!).  So I put that in the oven on 400, for about 25 minutes, and it was also very scrumpcious! So once everything was done, I finished up my chili. When it was done simmer, I added 12 ounces of beer to it, and let it simmer for another 30 minutes. Once it was done, it was quite good!(: Set back: too many beans. It would have been fine with just one can I think. I don’t like a lot of beans in my chili, but I felt it would be best to follow the recipe!

So all of this cooking turned into over 2 hours of cooking tonight! Which I am very happy about.  I feel like a chef again!(: So please, start reading my blog again, if you haven’t already. I will start doing it more, and I hope I haven’t let you down with out doing anything for a while. But I had lots of fun tonight, and I’m super happy I’ve got back to it!