Julia Child’s The French Chef premiered 25 years ago this month. I get the biggest kick out of Julia Child. I even read her biography last year and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys stories of this phenomenal woman. I was touched by her character, her energy, and her journey and passion for teaching us how to cook.
In the YouTube video below, you can watch Julia and Jacques Pepin create a Provencale sandwich, Pain Bagnat:
You can see another one of my favorite Julia videos here. In this quick clip from the French Chef, Julia talks about the varieties of chicken.
If there are two things I love, they are technology and food! I’m excited to announce a new feature that you can use to find new recipes, Food Blog Search. You may enter any recipe title, ingredient or cooking term into this Food Blog Search, and it will give you a list of food blog posts that contain what you’re looking for.
As you know, I’m a major fan of food blogs. Why? Food blogs discuss recipes that come from real people, and they show you the outcome and provide great cooking tips. From reading food blogs on a regular basis, you can get to know a bloggers’ cooking style, and you can find a blog author who has similar cooking interest. For example, there are food bloggers that specialize in everything from gluten free to organic to ethnic.
For those who are technology savvy, you can add Food Blog Search to your Google Toolbar! Click here to find out how.
Not only are our Keepsake Cookbooks getting bigger and better by popular demand, they’re also coming with more upgraded features. Here’s what you can look forward to starting April 2nd.
Keepsakes will increase to its new 5”x7” size
Cookbook Covers and Recipe Pages will come with a more stylish font
No more minimum requirement for recipe section pages; all cookbooks will come with divided recipe sections
New pricing structure so you can get more bang for your buck
Preview your cookbook before it is printed
Place a reorder at the click of a button
As a reminder, all of these great new upgrades for the Keepsake Cookbooks will take effect starting April 2nd. Any Keepsakes ordered on or before April 1st will be printed in the current format, not the upgraded version.
All Keepsake Cookbooks ordered after April 2nd will be printed with the new upgraded features.
As I mentioned before, I spent the weekend in my old home state of New Jersey. Despite the crazy snow storm that hit just hours after my arrival, it wasn’t enough to keep me away from my favorite South Jersey eats… a Wawa hoagie.
For those of you who don’t know, a hoagie is best known as a “sub-sandwich” to most non-northerners. In my personal opinion, there is no greater hoagie in the world then one from Wawa. Wawa is a small deli-type store only found in five Mid-Atlantic States; New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.
Wawa hoagies were always a treat for me as I was growing up, so it’s a staple whenever I return home. Sub sandwiches from some of your more popular national sandwich chains aren’t bad, but Wawa hoagies are an entity all on its own.
The bread is always fresh, and each sandwich comes with a heap of meat. The hoagies come in four different sizes ranging from the perfect snack, to a meal fit for a king. You can get all of your standard fixin’s, but there’s something about how they all mold together that makes the difference. My favorite is turkey and cheese with lettuce, tomato, and onion; Miracle Whip, chipotle honey mustard, oil, pickles, hot and sweet peppers, salt, pepper, and oregano. I’m a huge fan of juicy sandwiches, and this one hit the spot. The combination of the peppers, and herbs, plus the great way the bread sucks up the oil and chipotle honey mustard, and the crunch of the fresh vegetables makes for one heavenly eating experience.
Tradition in my family states that all Wawa hoagies must be followed up by a Tastykakes Butterscotch Krimpet; a delicious golden snack cake with a light butterscotch icing on top. I love going home!
Last weekend I headed to Portland, Oregon with a group of girlfriends. We have all been working on big projects at work and thought a little “girl’s trip” would do us some good. After all, there’s little that good friends and good food can’t cure!
On Saturday morning, we walked through the downtown area into Old Town to find Portland’s famous Voodoo Doughnuts. One of the girls heard about this place from a foodie friend, and we thought this was the perfect way to start out our trip. Voodoo has the most impressive doughnuts I have ever seen in my life, and the menu is very funny with doughnut names like Grape Ape and Mango Tango. (It’s also a little PG-13, so beware before clicking on their link!)
The doughnut racks were a sight to behold. Circles covered in vanilla frosting and Fruit Loops or Oreos. Doughnuts the size of a dinner plates. Even doughnuts covered in maple frosting with two strips of bacon on top! What a treat!
The story behind Voodoo Doughnuts is really cute. Two guys decided to start a doughnut business together but didn’t know how to make them! They traveled to a town in California to learn the trade from veterans of the doughnut world, and then perfected the recipes themselves.
Because there was no calorie counting on this trip, we also stopped for gelato later in the day at Allota Gelato in Portland’s Alphabet District. I had rose and ginger gelato- yummy! This neat shop had a similar to story. A family brought gelato recipes over from Italy and perfected them with friends and family members as tasters.
Isn’t it amazing how far family recipes can go? It’s always amazing to hear the story behind the recipe, so be sure to include notes in your Secret Ingredients cookbook.
I’m heading north this weekend and as we all know, in-flight snacks on most commercial airlines are not what they used to be any more. In addition to that, meal options at the airport are ridiculously pricey and less than healthy. So I’ve taken a note from two very important health conscious people in my life, my dearest friend Kate and my grandmother. Whenever I take a flight or a road trip, I like to pack dried fruit and granola.
Below is a tasty recipe for a great snack that fits perfectly in a carry-on or purse. It’s a real simple mix that you can whip together the night before you travel while you’re packing.
AJ’s Tasty Granola
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried cranberries
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup honey
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with wax paper.
2. Mix all dry ingredients together vigorously.
3. Mix wet ingredients together over medium heat.
4. Spread dry ingredients over wax paper lined baking sheet; pour wet ingredients on top.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until mixture is toasty and crunchy.
6. Allow to cool. Break up into crunchy bite size pieces and enjoy.
We at the Secret Ingredients hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day.
Remember, Valentine’s Day isn’t just for lovers; it’s a day for everyone to take a moment and tell the special people in their lives how much they’re appreciated and loved.
I called one of my favorite Valentine’s of all, my grandmother, to see how she was celebrating this lovely day of love. She told she prepared a very delicious heart-shaped roast with potatoes and string beans for dinner so she and my aunts could enjoy it together. They had pound cake with strawberries and whipped cream for dessert.
A very good friend of mine told me she got together with several of her girlfriends and they had a pizza party. They all brought different snacks like cheese platters, veggies, and salad and made homemade heart-shaped pizzas. A perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day with great friends.
As for me, my love-bug had to work for the night. So while he was serving couple after couple dinner for two at his restaurant, I was at home preparing a cute little Valentine’s Day care package for him. It was complete with all of his favorite snacks that came in red or pink packages. Strawberry milk and strawberry wafers, BBQ potato chips, Twizzlers, and fruit punch; I even buried a cute little stuffed pink dog in the middle of all the treats. He loved it.
So Happy Valentine’s Day to all the lovers, friends, and family out there! We hope you all spent the day with someone you love.
Over the last few months, my fiancé and I have been learning so much more about each other. One area of difference that seems to be somewhat amusing to me is grocery shopping.
During my single days, I learned that the best way to save money was to buy groceries with the intention of making one big meal that would feed me for a week. I’m the type of person who loves leftovers and can eat off of a meal until it’s gone. My repertoire would include things like lasagna, quiche, tacos, or baked or BBQ chicken with two different sides. I’m also the type of person who has to eat several small portions throughout the day.
The love of my life on the other hand is a little different. He’s a food connoisseur by nature and is currently enrolled in culinary school, so variety really is his spice of life. During his bachelor days, he’d go all out at times and experiment in the kitchen and come up with incredible dishes. But being a young guy on the move, one value meal a day from the closest fast food place would usually hold him over. He’s not much for leftovers either; he can tolerate the same meal two days in a row, but not much more.
We’ve been working on how to combine our two completely different eating and grocery shopping styles. I’ve found that if we get a base meat, and change how it’s prepared, we’re still getting the best of both worlds. A large bag of frozen chicken breast can be baked one night, fried another, and smothered in gravy, chicken parmesan, or even chicken picante. A decent portion of ground meat can be used for burgers, tacos, meatballs, or a meatloaf. The variety of things you can do with spaghetti noodles is endless; there’s your basic cream or tomato based sauces, with or without meat, cold or hot, or even topped with vegetables lightly sautéed in olive oil.
This compromise has really worked for us. It’s cost effective for me, and he still gets the variety of a different meal every day. At the same time, all of this compromise and kitchen experiments make for some awesome meals in the end. Perhaps I’ll start recording our adventures and come up with some great recipes for a Secret Ingredients Cookbook.
It’s almost here, everyone! Before you know it homes and offices will be full of fresh flower bouquets and tummys will be full of chocolate. Be sure to celebrate something on Valentine’s Day even if you are single!
Great food and chocolate are the perfect way to celebrate this pink and red holiday. Make your favorite guy (or gal) a meal to remember! If you are single, celebrate with other single people! My group of friends is getting together for champagne heart-shaped pizza to toast love in general. Be sure to save your sweetie’s favorite recipes for a future Secret Ingredients Cookbook.
Here’s a Valentine’s recipe to get you in the mood:
The big game is on Sunday, and we all know what that means: Good food, good friends, and awesome commercials! I’m sure that a lot of people are really excited about the actual game itself, but the food and commercials are enough for me.
We found a great Stock Pot recipe for the occasion! Remember that you can add Stock Pot recipes to your cookbook at the click of the button.
Chili Burgers These are great burgers served with coleslaw, fries, and baked beans.
Ingredients: 1 ½ pounds ground sirloin
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1½ tablespoons dark chili powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon steak seasoning blend
1 tablespoon steak seasoning blend
½ tablespoon dried parsley
8 ounces smoked white cheddar, sliced
Directions: Combine meat in a large mixing bowl with onion, garlic, jalapeno, tomato paste, chili powder, cayenne, parsley and steak seasoning blend. Form meat into 4 large (1 ½ inch-thick) patties. Grill meat 4 to 7 minutes on each side for medium-rare to well done burgers. Melt cheese over burgers during the last minute or 2 the meat is on the grill. Serve on buns.
Secret Ingredients offers custom cookbook options perfect for every family. Kate Walling, President and Founder, built her company as a platform through which she explores the importance of food traditions, cooking, and their integral place in the lives of modern families. Check back often for updates on Secret Ingredients products, as well as tips, recipes, inspiration, and ideas!