Tag Archives: cooking dvd

The Oprah Dream: What happened?

As most of you know, I auditioned for Oprah’s contest to have my “OWN” show on her new network, OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). It happened on a Friday afternoon in May, when Oprah talked through the TV to ME and said, “Do you think you have what it takes to have your own show? Do people tell you should be on TV?” “Yes, and yes, totally” I said back to her! So, my hubby and I scrambled and filmed a short audition before time slipped away.

Quick segue: When we produced, Cooking for the Clueless, our DVD to help people who are super frustrated in the kitchen, our intention was to sell it in the big stores – you know, Crate & Barrel and Bed Bath & Beyond for all the newlywed shoppers that realize they can’t cook after “I do” and Target for all the 30-something smart shoppers in our “target audience.” What really happened was that C&B and BBB & Tar-jay said, “great concept, but you’re a nobody kid – we can’t carry your DVD!” Ok, so they didn’t use those exact words, but they said if I had a show, it’d be a different story. Thank God for Amazon. They love us. Anyway – just a little reality background for our die-hard fans.

The more I promoted the DVD, the more TV (morning shows) I did and got more comfortable in front of the camera and people would say, “What a great concept for a show!” I always felt it was but started to believe that other people agreed. Oh and the best confidence booster happened at the Tasty Awards – do you remember when we won the Tasty Award for best food DVD? (see acceptance speech here :0). After the show, a big-time producer from TLC (produces Cake Boss) came up to me and said, “call me, I like your energy.” That was awesome – but so far nada. And then there came Oprah, the grande mama of all hopes for almost every woman in America. My audition got 18,364 votes! Out of 465 online cooking entries, I finished in the top 25 or 30, I think. Not bad huh?

Finish the Oprah Story already…

Ok, so the voting closed about 10 days ago and in a delusional state, I thought I may have a chance for a call back, then I read that out of 10,000 people, only 35 were getting called for a second round of personal interviews. That deflated any hopes, especially since the only person calling me was my grandma. ” Oprah didn’t call?” she asked in Spanish. As if it were a given. You gotta love your grandmas!

Thanks to EVERYONE who voted for me on Oprah! It was truly appreciated and I love all of your support! Stay tuned for more local stories on the challenges and perks of moving from clueless to cooking in the kitchen. :0)

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Amazing Grass!

Living in San Francisco and saying that I found “amazing grass” can certainly be confused for a few different things! But now that I’m cooking more, eating healthy has become a bi-product of what I crave. I’m becoming more and more comfortable in the natural food stores and craving foods that are fresh and natural. I have to say, the first time I walked into Rainbow Grocery, I was very intimidated. Everyone knew what they were doing and shopping “in bulk” and for all sorts of strange ingredients. I was pretty scared, being that I came from a “clueless” place. Now that I’ve been to quite a few “health” or natural food stores – I love that they have so many more options than the small “organic” sections at the big grocers which always seem a bit out-of-place – as if the marketing department at HQ said, “let’s get an organic section up asap.”

Back to that “amazing grass.” So, I was visiting Nature’s Food Patch on a visit to Clearwater, Florida looking for a healthy shake mix to get me started in the mornings and I found the most YUMMY mix ever. It’s called Amazing Meal (Chocolate Infusion) and it’s made by Amazing Grass, a San Francisco-based company! Ironic that I found it on the opposite coast when it’s made in my backyard. I mix it with almond milk and add 1/2 banana sometimes and although I love it because it tastes great, here are a few extra perks: it’s organic, raw, vegan, dairy free, non-gmo, gluten-free and soy free.

Check your local natural market or visit them at http://www.amazinggrass.com/ or in the Facebook world of course.

P.S.

Speaking of vegan…by matter of pure coincidence, my brilliant cartoonist & comedian friend, Michael Capozzola, emailed his latest FOOD cartoon creation to me today. Enjoy and check out more of his work at http://www.capozzola.com/ or at the Chronicle.

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Springtime wishes in the kitchen

Many people have been asking me if I’m still “clueless” in the kitchen. That’s a loaded question! Well, the answer is no, not really or not as much. However, I will say that I have a long way to go until I feel like I can effortlessly rule the kitchen – which is my wish in the kitchen. Is it too romantic to wish a country home upon myself, with a big kitchen filled with the warmth of many home-cooked meals? When you’re coming from a clueless state of mind, learning how to cook takes time, effort and a little bit of sweat – just like getting into shape! Here are a few of the favorite things I’ve learned so far:

  1. Owning the supermarket! I started taking the advice of experts and shopping 2-3 times, buying fresher and menu planning. It’s been a few months now and we’re cooking more and spending way less. Check out our expert article on shopping for more help.
  2. Stocking up: Learning how to stock your pantry with necessities is as important as having the right tools in the kitchen. My favorite tools have become 1)timer, 2)meat thermometer 3) sharp chef’s and paring knives 4)timer and 5)hand blender/mixer
  3. My Fab Five Recipes: Instead of feeling overwhelmed by “hundreds of easy recipes,” I’ve picked a few favorites that keep us happy and cooking. Pan-seared Sea Scallops, Spaghetti al Pomodoro, Oven-Roasted Potatoes, Baked (but tastes as good as fried) Chicken Drumsticks, Stuffed Butternut-Squash, and Fresh Sausage, Root Vegetable & Bean Stew. Some of these recipes are favorites from the DVD and the others I’ve adapted from old recipes or my imagination. Now that I have some confidence, it’s becoming fun to play in the kitchen.

I hope you’re cooking more, loving life and dreaming up your own wishes in the kitchen!

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Dare to cook this V-Day?

It usually happens around the 3rd date or so – if things are going well! That was my pattern – yes, offering to cook a meal. It never phazed me that I didn’t really know how to cook. You would think that might be an obstacle, right? Well, I would usually search for a good recipe on foodnetwork.com (listed under EASY) and then I’d go to the little gourmet shop down the street – where ingredients would cost me a fortune. With wine, cheese and dessert store-bought, I’d be safe in that arena, so if the meal itself wasn’t stellar, I’d at least get mega points for ambiance and presentation :0).

In our newest expert article, read about one of my 3rd date cooking disasters and get great advice on how to plan for a seductive meal as Terry Dagrosa, founder and publisher of SeductionMeals.com gives us her best tips for Valentine’s Day and beyond.

Click here to view Terry’s seductive tips!

P.S.

Earlier this week, I was on WINK TV making “Cupid’s Clueless Chocolate” – a delicious, quick and gourmet-tasting recipe for homemade chocolate treats that I learned from Chef Michael Munoz over the holidays. Chef Michael is Executive Chef at the City Club in San Francisco and founder of Fit to Be Tied – Gourmet Food and Fitness for Brides and Grooms. His recipes were awesome! If you’re a bride and groom looking to shape up before the big day (together), definitely contact him for help!

P.S.S.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Behind the Scenes on Live TV

Jenn Flaa, Vettana To Go

Jenn Flaa of Vettana To Go interviewed me to get the scoop on what it’s like behind the scenes at View From the Bay. She had some great questions. I hope they are helpful or at least interesting! The interview is in two parts. But before you go to the video, here are my most important tips:

  • Practice, Practice, Practice
  • Memorize 2-3 talking points or tips you want to communicate
  • Take a deep breath and focus on the interviewer (not the audience or cameras)
  • Try being a member of the studio audience before you are on the show so you know what to expect.

Part 2 questions: Click here for video (P.S. I like Part 2 better, thus the reverse order :0)

1.  Did you provide them with sample questions ahead of time?
2.  Did you do your own makeup or did they have a makeup crew there?
3.  Did you bring a couple different outfits along?
4.  Did they ask you any questions that you weren’t prepared for?
5.  Give us the scoop on the Tasty Award you won for the DVD “Cooking For The Clueless”

Part 1 questions: Click here for video

1.  Describe your day on View From The Bay
2.  Did they give you any tips about being on camera?
3.  Did you get to meet the hosts before you went on the air?

Become a Facebook Fan of Vettana To Go for great Media & PR tips by clicking here. Thanks again Jenn for a great interview!

To watch the actual live cooking segment (Pan-seared Salmon in a Tomato-herb cream reduction), click here now!

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Cookie Swap Anyone?

A friend of mine invited me to my 1st holiday cookie swap this weekend. Although I still have a tummy ache from all the sugar, this clueless baker learned a few things and had a great time playing with my food! As I sit here watching Paula Dean’s cookie swap party, I can tell you that cookies don’t come out looking that perfect – I wish mine did. Thank goodness there were other people baking at the party besides me. On that note, let me give you my favorite recipe of the day: English Toffee

English Toffee

Ingredients/equipment

  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 6 ounces chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • saucepan, cookie sheet
  • parchment paper (optional)

Now what?

  1. Cook the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan over Medium-low heat to hard crack stage using a candy or sugar thermometer (Tip: it should be stringy and about the color of a brown paper bag.)*
  2. Stir in pecans
  3. Pour batch onto parchment paper (cookie sheet) and sprinkle with chocolate chips. When the chips begin to melt, spread over entire pan with the back of a cold spoon. The chocolate should smoothly layer the batch.
  4. Sprinkle with almonds
  5. Allow to cool at room temperature for 20 minutes, then allow for complete setting in the fridge for at least 30 additional minutes or until hard. Finally, break into pieces by hand or knife

I can see how these cookie swaps have become so popular, giving people a chance to escape from holiday stress while gabbing about sweet nothings. Speaking of sweet, one thing that shocked me (literally) was the vast amounts of sugar, cream, butter, shortening and more sugar involved in making cookies. This is what I get for being clueless in the kitchen – not knowing that “vast amounts of sugar” are usually involved in making cookies!

One last thing, I had no idea what a candy/sugar thermometer was either, so I looked it up. Basically, you should think about getting one of these if you want to make toffee, peanut brittle, peppermint bark or any other sweet hard candy. These candy thermometers are similar to meat thermometers but they can read higher temperatures (including oil for frying). Ok, I have to work out now after talking about all this!

Happy Holidays!!!

P.S. Here’s the cookie that I made. It looked ok, but tasted…um…well, just stick with the toffee recipe and you’ll be ok.

img_00751

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Winter Risotto & Choco Panna Cotta at Bloomies

Zuzy & Chef Preston Dishman of Viognier

Last night we warmed up some of our fans at Bloomingdale’s San Francisco with a Butternut Squash Risotto and sweet Chocolate Panna Cotta topped with fresh cream! It was so fun to learn from Chef Preston Dishman of Viognier. You might recognize Chef Preston from the “Restaurant Factor” segments on the Cooking for the Clueless DVD or from watching him on local Bay Area TV. He’s a regular on View From the Bay.

The risotto was perfect for a very cold night in San Francisco (felt like I was back in NYC sans the proper coat…Brrrr). As for the Panna Cotta, it was so easy to make! Try out our Comforting Winter Recipes this season and check out the free cooking demos at Bloomie’s. They’re great.

This Saturday Tony Gemignani will be there at 2pm. He’s the famous Pizza Tossing Champ from the Food Network who recently opened up Tony’s Pizza and Scuola di Napoli in North Beach (SF). He’s really fun and animated. I actually learned how to toss pizza with him a while back. Yes! and if I could do it, so can you!

Photo Credits: Michael Capozzola (my favorite cartoonist/comedian!)

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