A cooking and baking journal

Sloppy Joe's : The Super Hero of the Culinary World

3/21/10: Super Sloppy Joes with Homemade Hamburger Rolls and Life By Chocolate Cupcakes

Meal details: Annemarie made some crusty hamburger rolls on Saturday for my Super Sloppy Joe's. The Sloppy Joe recipe includes onions, tomato sauce and paste, bell peppers, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, and of course, ground beef. For dessert, I made chocolate cupcakes, each with a Hershey Kiss in the middle. :)

Defining moments: First time using a Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman) recipe and making ganache!

Recipe sources: The Sloppy Joe recipe is from Rachael Ray and I actually made this before. See my original posts here and here. The chocolate cupcake recipe is from the Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen. I just noticed that the Sloppy Joe recipe link on the Food Network website is obsolete. Ugh. How can they delete this recipe from their archive? Oh well, I'll write it out here for you all:

Rachael Ray's Super Sloppy Joe's --

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
  • 1 1/4 lbs ground sirloin
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2-3 teaspoons steak seasoning, such as McCormick brand Montreal seasoning
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 crusty rolls, split, toasted, and lightly buttered


  • sliced ripe tomato
  • pickle
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Add oil and meat to the pan.
  3. Spread the meat around the pan and begin to break it up.
  4. Combine brown sugar and steak seasoning.
  5. Add sugar and spice mixture to the skillet and combine.
  6. When the meat has browned, add onion and red peppers to the skillet.
  7. Reduce heat to medium and cook onions, peppers, red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce with meat for 5 minutes.
  8. Add tomato sauce and paste to pan.
  9. Stir to combine.
  10. Reduce heat to simmer and cook Sloppy Joe mixture 5 minutes longer.
  11. Using a large spoon or ice cream scoop, pile sloppy meat onto toasted, buttered bun bottoms and cover with bun tops.
  12. Serve with your favorite sides or sliced tomatoes seasoned with salt and pepper, dill pickles and Potato Salad.
  13. We like to put a thick slice of cheddar on top of the meat in the sandwich and broil it for a few minutes to melt. YUM.

What I learned: Well, because I have done the first recipe before, nothing new there. But the cupcake recipe included a chocolate ganache that you dip the baked and cooled cupcakes in. I've seen it done on t.v. many a time but this is my first on hands approach. It was a lot of fun to make! Especially when pouring the hot cream over the chocolate--boy, did that look delicious!

Any modifications? Yes, I tweaked both recipes slightly. For the sloppy joe's, I didn't use the steak seasoning (don't have any), instead I used pepper. I used ground chuck instead of ground sirloin (cheaper, lol!).

And for Ree Drummond's recipe. . . I didn't add the baking soda to the wet ingredients at the beginning, like the recipe states. I instead, placed the soda in the dry ingredients. I did this because I knew the baking soda would react with the wet ingredients and I didn't want to lose all that leavening power before they are in the oven.

How it tasted? The Sloppy Joe's were as good as ever (especially with those homemade buns), and the cupcakes were VERY good. But then how, I ask you, can a cupcake that has a chocolate batter, a chocolate kiss in the center, and a chocolate ganache on top be bad? Yeah, that doesn't make sense. :D I loved everything about both recipes!

How about a 2nd time? Without a doubt, absolutely, totally, definitely. . . In other words: YES.

Oh yes, a note about the photos. I will begin sharing my photos to you by way of Flickr. So when you click on any one of them, you will be transferred to my Flickr account and have the ability to view them at full scale.

Super Sloppy Joe's 1

Super Sloppy Joe's 4

Super Sloppy Joe's 3

Life by Chocolate Cupcakes 2

Life by Chocolate Cupcakes 4

Life by Chocolate Cupcakes 3

Life by Chocolate Cupcakes 1

The Sweet and the Sour : Lemon Pork with Honey Applesauce


3/14/10: Lemon Salt Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Honey Roasted Applesauce

Meal details: The sole dish for this meal consisted of a pork loin, crusted with lemon zest, salt, and pepper, seared and roasted in the oven, and served with a sauce of apples, honey, and lemon juice.

Defining moments: First time for me to sear and roast a pork loin.

Recipe sources: Both these recipes came from Michael Chiarello, the host of Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello (that sometimes airs on the Fine Living channel). I chose to do these two recipes because I am part of the Food Network Chef Cooking Challenge that is being hosted by the writer of the I Thank My Mother blog.

What I learned: One important lesson I learned this week--and this is what I gathered from my Papa--is that pork is a hard meat to overcook. That is good to know because I rather start cooking early, put it in the oven, and forget about it!
When I was zesting the lemons I wanted to try out something I saw on the show Good Eats. Alton Brown recommended placing a layer of saran wrap on top of a cheese grater on the side that looks like little stars and grate the lemons directly onto the saran wrap. And when you were done, just remove the saran wrap and scrape off the zest. I tried it and it worked perfectly! I was afraid that the saran wrap may tear but it worked out just fine and this little trick really comes in handy for me because I am without a microplane. :( Sniff. . . I'm not really crying, I think I can do without that gadget! It's a bit too fancy for me. ;)

Any modifications? Yes, I made a few. For the tenderloin recipe I used only four lemons. Some of the people who commented on this recipe said the lemon flavor was too strong, so that's why I adjusted the amount.
And the applesauce. . . I didn't cut up apples and roast them but rather took three quarts of homemade applesauce from the freezer and used that as a base. I used two quarts of smooth and one chunky and I reduced the liquid on the stove top.

How it tasted? The pork went very well with the applesauce but I couldn't really detect a lemon flavor, unfortunately. It was a good pork, nonetheless, it had good flavor and moistness. I really liked the applesauce! I love the sweet and tart combination.

How about a 2nd time? The lemon zest didn't add much flavor to the meal. . . This lack of lemon flavor could be caused by my lemon reduction but I'm not sure. No, I don't think I will go through the trouble again of trying out this recipe. I'm satisfied with the way we roast our pork already, which is placing the pork in a pan with a little water and seasoning it liberally with salt and pepper. Its simple but it is good that way. If it ain't broke, don't fix.
I will have the applesauce again, though. It was deeelicious!

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies : My First "America's Test Kitchen" Recipe


3/13/10: Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last Saturday my sister and I baked some chocolate chip cookies using a recipe that was demonstrated on the PBS t.v. show, America's Test Kitchen. This show is my new favorite because it brings the chemistry of cooking to the forefront and really walks you through each step. It also includes a taste test segment as well as a kitchen utensil discussion--both things that add a special touch to the program.
We really were interested in this chocolate chip cookie recipe because the hosts boasted about the crispness of this cookie along with its chewy center. Sounded like texture heaven! They also had very unique preparation techniques that I had to try out. So let me walk you through it. . .

The Ingredients: The ingredients consisted of the usual suspects: brown and white sugar, flour, baking soda, butter, etc., but the intriguing ingredient was one hard boiled egg yolk. The hosts said that if you were to add a whole egg (uncooked) to the batter, the water-to-sugar ratio would not be correct and you wouldn't get the chewy texture that was being aimed for.

The Preparation: The way they prepared the batter was also unexpected. Instead of just throwing all the ingredients together in a bowl, they melted the butter until it was brown, added it to the sugar and whisked it for 30 seconds, allowed it to sit for 3 minutes, and repeated this step two more times. This stirring and waiting technique allows the sugar to dissolve completely which makes for a fine textured cookie and enables the cookie to form a crust fast. If a crust is formed soon after it is in the oven the center will retain its texture, thus a chewy centered cookie. The hosts mentioned that this technique was devised by accident; they said a staff member, while mixing the batter, had to walk away and answer a telephone. When he returned he noticed how thick and glossy the batter looked and the dissolved sugar factor was examined more closely. What great things come from accidents!

Any Recipe Changes? No, I made no modifications to this recipe. And for a side note. . . I used Semi-Sweet Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips.

The Tasting Panel: We did notice a difference in the cookie's flavor and texture. It had more of a rich, caramel flavor compared to the Nestlé version and the crisp outer layer and the chewy interior were there. A very good cookie and is now my new favorite chocolate chip!

Cook Status


So what happened on Sunday, March 7?

A: Sorry, no cooking for me last Sunday. My family has been under the weather and I decided to take another break; I hope to try out a Michael Chiarello recipe this coming Sunday so be expecting a full post soon!

News Flash: The Next Food Network Star Winner Wins with Popovers

3/4/10: Chicken Mole and Fool-Proof Popovers

Note: No, I didn't mix up my days of the week! I was under the weather last Sunday so wasn't able to cook until Thursday.

Meal details: For the main course I made Chicken Mole, a Mexican dish that has shredded chicken and a sauce comprised of chilies, onions, chicken stock, and chocolate. And for a side, I made popovers.

Defining moments: This would be my first time making AND tasting mole sauce and popovers. Another amazing moment (and kind of funny, too!) for this time is that I recorded both of these dishes being demonstrated on T.V. That usually doesn't happen!

Recipe sources: The mole sauce is a recipe created by Marcela Valladolid, the host of the new Food Network show, Mexican Made Easy. The mole sauce was meant to be used for enchiladas, but I decided to just use it as a sauce over chicken. Easier and faster to do!
The popover recipe is from Melissa d'Arabian, the host of Ten Dollar Dinners on Food Network. I made sure I did this recipe because I am part of the Food Network Chef Cooking Challenge that is being hosted by the writer of the I Thank My Mother blog.

What I learned: I learned from doing this popover recipe that I don't need a special popover pan. All I need is a muffin pan and those I have! The finished popover may not look as nice but my family is OK with a rustic looking popover.
When I was making the popovers I ran into a scary moment. I had to brush the muffin pans with a bit of melted butter and preheat the pans in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes. When I took out the hot pans to pour the batter in, I found the butter to be dark brown and even black in some spots!
"That isn't how it looked on T.V.," I thought. I knew there was nothing I could do at that point so I just decided to go for it. I'm glad I did because the dark butter color didn't interfere with the rising or taste of the popovers. They turned out just fine. Whew! I'm glad they did.
Oh, another little tip. Fill the muffin holes 2/3 way with batter, that's just the right amount.
I also learned about a new cheese I haven't had before. On top of the mole chicken I placed some Asiago cheese slices. Asiago cheese is made from cow's milk and can come in both fresh and aged forms; I used the fresh which melts quickly and is smooth. The fresh Asiago taste somewhat mozzarella, but a mozzarella with a bit of sharpness.

Any modifications? Yes, I made some to the chicken mole recipe.

1. First I changed the whole idea of the recipe. Instead of enchiladas I simply combined shredded chicken and mole sauce.
2. I used frozen Ancho peppers (from my family's farm) instead of dried Ancho chilies.
4. I used less peanut butter, about half the amount. I did this because when I first tasted it, I thought it was becoming too strong.
5. I used Asiago cheese on top.
6. And finally, I used a combination of semi-sweet chocolate, cinnamon, and almond extract in replace of the Mexican chocolate.

I have to point out here that I was very glad to see all the substitution suggestions Marcela has on the bottom of her recipes. It really shows that she is aware of the fact that not all grocery stores carry these over-the-border ingredients. It comes in real handy for those people (like moi) who can't find anything where I live!

How it tasted? Well, let me first begin with the good news. The popovers were GREAT. Everyone loved them. Now, about the mole sauce. Well. . . (said in an Ethel Mertz sort of way) I didn't like it much. Too extraño for me and most of the family; I sort of saw that one coming, to tell you the truth! I'm glad I tried it out and who knows maybe I will find a better recipe for mole sauce, I never had it before so I'm not sure what it is suppose to be like.

How about a 2nd time? I will certainly do the popovers again, I was very pleased with them. The mole will probably not be seeing the light of day soon. ;)

You wouldn't believe the joy on my face when I turned on the oven light and saw these through the glass window. I kept on thinking, "They worked, they worked!"