Category Archives: tips for new cooks

Top Secret: Interview with BIG TV CHEF!

Guess who is going to be video chatting with one of the biggest chefs in America?!!! I cannot tell you who it is yet, but let’s just say that if your watch Food on TV, you will know and love this person! We’ll be releasing a series of short video conversations, so let me know what I should ask?

Think Mediterranean!

Post your questions here or on our Facebook page: facebook.com/cookingfortheclueless

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I can’t believe I survived Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving proper, we were invited to a friend’s for lunch and then over to family’s for dinner, so, no cooking my own turkey. Instead, I offered 2 side dishes, plucked from Real Simple magazine. For some reason, I felt like I was cheating. Here I am, Zuzy, from Cooking for the Clueless, preaching to all novice cooks that they can “do it,” they can cook, “it’s easy.” Yet, here I was not even making my own turkey? Ahh, the pressure we put on ourselves! So, I decided to cook my own Thanksgiving tonight, Tuesday, the day after Cyber Monday as they call it. How did it go? Well, I won’t lie, it was stressful! Before I get into the stress, here was my menu:

My Turkey!

The Oyster & Bacon Stuffing was a huge huge hit (I used smoked oysters) and I was happy with the rest of the menu too. But, I have to tell you that the damn turkey almost gave me a heart attack! They only had frozen turkeys when I went to the supermarket late the night before and I was stressed about defrosting it. Then, when roasting, I had a leak in the cheapie pan that I used and the oven started smoking. Next, I was worried about opening and closing the oven too many times while cooking the side dishes. Finally, after about 4 hours, it started to look like a cooked turkey. But like most new cooks, I still stressed over possibly poisoning my family and neighbor with an undercooked bird, so I dug into the drawer for my 2 fancy meat thermometers – all this while I cleaned the kitchen, vacuumed, and set the table with fancy things. Our only guest this evening, my lovely neighbor, arrived punctually and after a few minutes of watching me try to put a battery into the fancy meat thermometer, she offered some help. She set the thermometer aside and grabbed a fork. With a couple of pokes, she says, “oh, it’s done!” in her New York Italian accent. She had 79 years of cooking wisdom behind her, so I took her word for it! Thankfully, it turned out pretty good and with good wine and great conversation, I’ll call it a hit!

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Happy Holidays!

 

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Thanksgiving Feast at your Doorstep

I’ve been waiting since last Thanksgiving to tell you about Cook! SF’s amazing Thanksgiving Feast. If you want to host your very own, organically scrumptious, homemade Thanksgiving, but want to take some of the hassle out of the process (or you’re a procrastinator like me, which inevitably brings hassle), have Cook! SF help you. They deliver the goods, you cook by following their easy instructions and pre-measured ingredients. Here’s what you will get delivered to your doorstep:

Serving 8-10 Guests

  • Free-range Organic Turkey
  • Real Turkey Gravy From Home-Made Stock
  • Our Famous Corn Bread Stuffing
  • Creamy Organic Red-Skin Mashed Potatoes
  • Sumptuously Steamed Organic Green Beans
  • Organic Spring Mix Salad with Crumbled Blue Cheese (optional), Pears, Walnuts, Dried Cranberries
  • Zesty Orange and Ginger Cranberry Sauce
  • Gluten-free & Dairy-free pumpkin pie
  • Apple pie so good you won’t believe there’s no gluten or dairy!

Check out their video explaining how it works and their website, but don’t delay – ORDERS MUST BE MADE BY THIS FRIDAY, November 19, 2010.

For more information, please visit: http://www.cooksf.com

Facebook lovers: http://www.facebook.com/CookSF

P.S.

If I was hosting my own this year, I would definitely go Cook! I kinda wish we were in our new place, but the relatives locked us in at their place :0)

 

 

 

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Glorious Pumpkins

What is it about these magical vegetables that makes them so awesome? Is it their color, their size, their weird shapes? Maybe its our memories associated them? I could sit and write a poem about pumpkins right now, I’m so in love with them. Then again, I just came from yoga class, so I am definitely in a creative and calm mood :0). Here’s a great recipe from one of our favorite Cooking for the Clueless Facebook Fans, Lynnee Bedard Jimenez of Chica Circle:

Great Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie – Perfect blend of spices & not too sweet

  • 2 cups pumpkin
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice

Beat all ingredients together 2 minutes. Bake @ 475 for 15 min and then @ 400 until done (can cover crust edge with foil to stop the burn). That’s it!!

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How much food do YOU waste?

I’m always trying to find statistics to help me prove my theory that we NEED MORE HELP in the kitchen – so that I don’t feel like I’m alone, you know? Well, this is a big one.

According to the Department of Agriculture, we (Americans) waste 27% of our food! This means we throw it out, let it go bad or just don’t know what to do with it?

Aside from a big stat, this study links wasted food with wasted energy…something that all of us are thinking about these days.

Check out the article here!

Also, Jonathan Bloom has a great blog on how to waste less food! www.wastedfood.com

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Now That’s a Good Meatball!

I am so lucky to have my grandma in town for 2 weeks! She’s 85 (looks 75) and fantastic. I think I’ve mentioned before that she’s an amazing cook? That being said – she’s also partly to blame, for me being clueless in the kitchen. Instead of teaching me how to cook, she opted to “spoil me.” In her eyes, she wanted to cook for me and not have me doing work in the kitchen. Obviously, I appreciate her so much and am learning from her now in my 30’s!

So today, we’re making MEATBALLS! The perfect, protein-packed, easy to eat comfort food for any adult or a 1-year old. The meatballs are really for my son. They are so easy to make. Here’s the quick recipe:

  1. Take 1/2 pound of ground beef (80/20%) and 1/2 pound of ground pork. Grab a bowl and use your hands to mush the ground meat together.
  2. Once mixed, scramble 1 egg in a separate bowl and then mix into your meat. Again, use your clean hands to mix.
  3. Next, slowly add about 1/2 cup of Italian or seasoned breadcrumbs. Mix well.
  4. Start rolling your meatballs in the palm of your hand (about 1-inch thick). Roll them well so the meatball is packed firmly. Then sprinkle more breadcrumbs over the meatball before setting aside.
  5. TO COOK: Add the meatballs to a stewing pot and add enough chicken broth to cover. Add fresh garlic and a pinch of salt.
  6. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes over medium heat. You’re done.

Side dish: Simmered Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes. Slice your sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch thick circles, simmer in 1/2-cup of water. Add 1/4-cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of butter, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Simmer until tender.

Fancy Serve: Place 1 meatball atop of each sweet potato slice. Add some greens for color!

Note: 1-pound of meat yields about 2 dozen average size meatballs.

Happy 1st day of FALL 2010!

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Love & Potatoes: My New CSA

I picked up my bag of veggies from my new CSA (Canvas Ranch) this week and it was so exciting. I had no idea what I was getting and not sure what I was going to do with it, so it felt like an adventure. I walked to pick up my bag of goodies with my little boy, Craig, and started thinking about how FRESH food is so romanticized these days. It was an interesting string of thoughts. There I was, walking with my 10-month old sleeping quietly in his super stroller as I passed all the pretty trees and looked into the hills of Marin County all while I was supporting a local farm. All I needed was a little music and it would be a great scene in a movie, I bet.

The romance side tracks me…anyway, I arrived to grab my veggies and on queue, the baby starts screaming, the wind blew cold and there I was with no jacket and 2 miles from home.

Finally, we get home and I spread out the goods on my kitchen table. The excitement came back! I didn’t know what everything was but it looked so pretty and fresh and colorful. I picked up something that looked like parsley and smelled and picked off a leaf. “It doesn’t smell like parsley,” I thought. It tasted so different – like a candied orange…how strange! Canvas Ranch solved the mystery with their weekly newsletter explaining everything: Lettuce, Rainbow Chard, Golden and Chiogga Beets, Collards, Radicchio, Yukon Gold Potatoes, Scallions and Cilantro!

It was cilantro! I’ve had cilantro before, but not like this. It was so different and extra delicious. Oh, and the potatoes! I sliced them like steak fries and baked them with olive oil and a little Old Bay seasoning…so good that I didn’t use ketchup – and I’m a ketchup fanatic.

I can’t wait to cook and eat these up during the week. Do you have any favorite CSAs (community-supported agriculture) that you love. And please, tell me about any fruits or veggies that have surprised you lately.

Off to a canning & jamming class…

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