Category Archives: Food Recipes Restaurants

Cookies for Summer

Summer Cookies with Flair and Flavor

Cookies Ease the Mind and Satisfy

partnersuche freundschaft Cookies are my weakness. What better way to feed a sweet tooth than by baking them yourself. I’ve been collecting some great cookie cutters for months and finally found time to put them to use. You can use your favorite sugar cookie recipe to bake these. This summer, I came up with an idea to give my cookies a fruity summer twist. Yum!

The secret ingredients for my next page Summer Cookies are http://ducove.sk/milno/7161 cardamom and how to write an online dating profile for men ground http://ligaspanyol.net/?mikroskop=sites-de-rencontre-paris&83f=7a coriander seed. Also, for a refreshing fruity twist, I’ve added http://itwixie.com/?rimotyr=site-rencontre-gratuits-entre-valide-et-handicap%D0%93%C2%A9s&a01=16 orange, lemon, and lime oils to the mix—just a 1/4 teaspoon of each will do. Always use fresh ingredients (butter, eggs, and flour). Remember, when you bake cookies at home from scratch, it’s navigate to these guys real food with actual free dating sites in trafford pa food value—even if they are a little high in calories and fat. Moderation is the key. It’s fun to decorate them too!

Robert Reoch Summer Cookies

These won’t last long. . . nom-nom-nom….

site de rencontre sérieux jeune Happy baking!

Robert Reoch

Copyright sistema de citas para el dmv Robert George Reoch Publishing

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Robert Reoch Writes “Mind Pastry”

Robert Reoch is Mind Pastry

Robert Reoch Bakes

Robert Reoch measures, beats, and sometimes whips ideas to death. Welcome to “Mind Pastry,” a bakery of thoughts from my mind to yours. 

Robert Reoch is the Name

My last name, Reoch, is pronounced, Rē’ŏck (rhymes with Reebok). That  image of a piece of cake floating among the palm trees in my page banner is a slice from a red velvet cake that I actually baked! Robert Reoch's Mind Pastry CakeThere’s more to Mind Pastry than just the analogy, though. I actually love pastry—and I bake it too!—but that’s another post.

Mind Pastry is Layered

I offer a dose of conscience to the Internet through many of my posts. I believe we have too many “reality TV” shows and deceptive news outlets in the media. Too often, issues are discussed from just one point of view in the news. Many pop “journalists” aren’t doing their homework. They aren’t getting out to the field to research their stories. Much of current reporting relies solely on popular social memes—mass hysteria, as I see it—rather than on verified facts and nuanced examination of the gray areas. Please, people, stop thinking only in black and white. Look for what’s in-between. Ask what is the back story you’re not getting from the media. I try to present layers and perspectives that encourage people to discover full truths. I live by three principles: Love, Truth, and Knowledge. I resent journalism that ignores these values in favor of ratings and profit. I hope you find something new and thought-provoking in Mind Pastry.

Robert Reoch Writes

I’ve written a couple of books of short stories under pen name, Robert George Reoch. I wrote my Travelers’ Shorts books with the traveler in mind, even though my stories not about travel. The idea was to provide short stories for the traveler who didn’t want to start a heavy novel. Short stories provide entertainment in manageable chunks for the person on the go. My short stories are written with taste and richness (just like pastry). These epic tales offer drama, adventure, and laugh-out-loud humor. You can order them here:

Travelers Shorts

Travelers’ Shorts: Stories That Move

 

Travelers Shorts 2: Tethers by Robert George Reoch

Travelers’ Shorts 2: Tethers

Please enjoy my books!

Robert Reoch

Copyright Robert George Reoch Publishing

Birthday Cake

Birthday Cake

Birthday Cake is a Tradition in Our Home

I baked another Birthday Cake for Joon this year. This  birthday cake has pockets of soft chocolate fudge swirled inside each of the two layers, plus a rich chocolate butter cream frosting. That’s love, man. Ha!

JoonsBirthdayCake2014comp

Happy Birthday Joonyo!

I’ve really been getting into baking over the last few years. It’s a lot of fun, but it takes an investment of time and love (and using the right tools). Anyone can learn. Just remember this one important rule about baking: Measure, measure, measure. You can’t mess around with recipe proportions. Also, don’t substitute ingredients like baking soda for baking powder, or powdered sugar for regular sugar. It just doesn’t work that way. I’ve learned a ton about baking by watching Martha Stewart videos on TV too. She is the best at explaining all the tricks.

Robert Reoch

Beat Hotel Restaurant Harvard Square

Beat Hotel Restaurant Harvard Square

We tried the new restaurant, Beat Hotel, in Harvard Square last night.

I should blog more often. I’m lazy and lead an uncomplicated life. Be jealous. We do like to dine out a few times a month. I love hopping on the bus to Harvard Square. It’s only minutes away, so we don’t need to drive there. Tonight we tried a new restaurant called, Beat Hotel. For your edification, I’ve copied my Yelp review here. I hope, as you begin this second month of 2014, that your life is going smoothly and you’re enjoying good health. I’ll try to blog more often. Here’s my restaurant review:

Beat Hotel Restaurant

Although this was a disappointing first visit, I wouldn’t call it a total disaster. The atmosphere is inviting and wide open, softly lit and comfortable. The service was excellent, although the friendliness felt just slightly forced (fierce smiles). Here’s what we had and how it rated:

Two Appetizers: The Smokey Chipotle BBQ Spare Ribs were tender, flavorful, and fall off the bone easy to eat. Perhaps they could have been a bit more spicy (more heat), but we loved them! The Crispy Tuna Springrolls were excellent too. One large roll was sliced in half on the diagonal. The wraps were light and crunchy, the tuna and greens inside were fresh, and the sauce complemented well. Very well executed.

Two Entrees:

The FAROE ISLAND SALMON with Cous Cous, Lentils, Spinach, and Carrot Miso Puree was okay. The salmon was cooked properly. Most of the flavor was in the skin, but that’s fine. My dining companion enjoyed it, however the accompanying cous cous was undercooked and tasted of uncooked pasta.

The SKIRT STEAK with Frites, Peppercorn Jus, and Pickles was heinous. I believe skirt steak should not be on the menu if you aren’t familiar with its characteristics and how to prepare it. I ordered mine cooked MEDIUM because I know skirt steak can be stringy. Preparing it rare can be
disastrous. You can go medium rare if you marinate it and season it properly and then slice it with the grain into serving size pieces. Unfortunately, my skirt steak was prepared blood rare and served as one large piece plopped smack atop of a large pile of thinly sliced
undercooked very brown potatoes (frites). I struggled cutting the stringy steak. It had a minimum of seasoning. After a bite or two, I lifted the steak off the pile of potatoes and put it aside to try the potatoes. (Why did they plate the steak on top of the potatoes anyway?)
Trying to cut into a potato slice, my steak knife had a tougher time than with the steak. The potato was like leather. I was baffled. I chewed on a piece of potato. It was definitely undercooked and saturated in grease, which made it rubbery—really rubbery. I do not exaggerate. I had to stop trying after poking a few more potatoes with my fork and
knife and not being able to pierce them. What did they do to them?

After the nice appetizers, my skirt steak plate was a sad let down. I didn’t love the steak. I couldn’t eat the potatoes. They transformed them into something that bore no resemblance to potatoes. There was no white potato flesh to be found. Thin, brown slices of rubbery ick. (Okay, I’ll stop.) I shared my skirt steak with my dining companion, but it was slow work chewing on that. Our server stopped by soon after we were served and I pointed out that my steak was rare instead of medium, as I had ordered. She offered to take it back, but I declined because experience has taught me that sending back food is an exercise in futility. Restaurant food rarely comes back quickly, or improved, once you’ve sent it back. Besides, don’t you worry they might get a little funky with it?

As our plates were being cleared, I explained my disappointment to a friendly bus person who promised to pass along my comments. Soon after, the concerned manager came and listened with great patience as I explained my dissatisfaction with my entrée while at the
same time heaping praise on the appetizers. The manager explained that the restaurant is new and the kitchen was just trying out the potato dish. She expressed genuine interest in my feedback about the skirt steak and the frites, and she made every effort to make us feel valued. She also offered to pay for my entrée, which I felt was the right thing to do. It wouldn’t be fair to ask me to pay $24 for what was served to me. Including our appetizers and sodas, our bill (with the one entrée taken off) was about $75. We tipped well for the excellent service.

I’ll conclude by saying the vibe at this restaurant is very good. By the way, they have live music entertainment and plenty of bar seating as well as dozens of dining tables. The food
needs to follow suit in order to generate repeat business. Nothing should leave the kitchen that wouldn’t delight a patron. I would not discourage anyone from trying Beat Hotel for dinner. (For now, just take a cue from what I ordered and hopefully you’ll “skirt” any
disappointment.)

Robert George Reoch

Copyright Robert George Reoch

Absolutely the Best Pasta Sauce Recipe

Absolutely the Best Pasta Sauce Recipe!

Robert Reoch Best Pasta Sauce

Robert Reoch Invents the Best Pasta Sauce Recipe

This is absolutely the best pasta sauce you will ever eat!

I’ve been preparing this sauce for over 30 years. Decades of experience and experimentation have culminated in this one, incredibly delicious sauce. This is one sauce you will not find on Food Network, which I do follow faithfully.

In order to fully appreciate this sauce, you must fully commit to the process. I suggest you read the entire recipe and instructions prior to beginning your culinary masterpiece.

Your efforts will result in a truly magnificent sauce that no one can resist. Don’t be afraid to invite guests for your first presentation of this wonderful sauce. Be ready to serve seconds and thirds. This rich, vibrant sauce is absolutely the best! (Just wait ‘til you discover the secret ingredient!)

Five Easy-to-Follow Segments for the Perfect Sauce

This recipe is broken into five easy-to-follow segments:

1) Utensils and Implements 2) Ingredients 3) Prep 4) Directions 5) Pasta Suggestions

Utensils and Implements you will need:

• Large 12” sauce pan with high sides OR large 10” – 12” pot
• Large pasta pot for boiling pasta
• Large bowl (for temporarily setting aside sautéed vegetables)
• Large 12” serving bowl or larger platter
• Large tongs for tossing pasta
• Salt and Pepper at hand for seasoning adjustments
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil close at hand for drizzling
• Garlic press (optional) or pre-chop garlic

Ingredients:

2 Medium onions (chopped)
1 Cup Grated carrots
1 Cup Chopped green peppers
8 Garlic cloves (minced) divided into two portions
½ Cup Olive Oil (Extra Virgin)
1 Tbsp. Fennel seed (whole crushed or 1 tsp. dried)
1 Tsp. Red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. Oregano (dried, crushed)
1 Tsp. Bay leaf (dried flakes or one whole)
2 Tbsp. Basil (dried, crushed)
1 Tbsp. Parsley (dried, flakes)
1 – 1 ½ Lb. Ground turkey or ground chicken
1 Lb. Italian turkey sausage (sweet or hot)
1 28 oz. can Crushed plum tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can Diced tomatoes
1 6 oz. can Tomato paste
1 15 oz. can Tomato sauce
1 6 oz. can Sliced beets (chopped with juice) Secret ingredient! Adds deep red color!
½ Cup Marsala cooking wine
½ Cup Grated Parmesan and/or Romano cheese
1 Pinch Ground allspice
1 Tbsp. Anchovy paste
1 Tbsp. Capers (jarred, drained)
1 Tbsp. Sugar or sugar substitute (do not omit)
1 16 pkg. Dried spaghetti rigati (or other dried pasta)

Prep:

Begin by setting up the cooking area with necessary pots, pans, and
cooking utensils. Wear an apron or an old shirt. (This bright sauce may stain.)

Remove ground meats from refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature so as not to slow the sauce cooking. With a sharp knife, slit the sides of sausages to allow removal of casings.

Use a garlic press, or pre-mince the garlic and set aside.

Chop green peppers and carrots first and set aside. Chop the onions last (to minimize “crying” during sauce preparation).

Assemble and arrange spices and herbs for easy reach while sautéing vegetables and meats. Pre-open canned and jarred items.

Directions for Preparing Sauce:

• Heat skillet on medium heat and pour in half of the olive oil (¼ cup)
• Add chopped vegetables (onions, carrots, and green peppers) to pan.
Season lightly with salt and pepper. Using a large wooden spoon, sauté
the vegetables until just tender and push them to one side of the pan
leaving an open space on one side to create a “hot spot” for the next
step.
• Drizzle a small amount of additional olive oil into the “hot spot”
area and sprinkle in the dried pepper flakes, fennel seed, oregano, and
basil. Sauté the dried ingredients in the hot spot to release their
essences, stirring them in the oil until the aromas begin to release.
Then, push the sautéed vegetables back to the center of the pan and stir
to incorporate the herbs with the vegetables. Transfer the mixture to a
separate bowl and set aside temporarily.
• Pour the rest of the olive oil (¼ cup) into the pan and add the ground
turkey (or ground chicken) and the Italian sausage meat (removed from
casings). Season lightly with salt and pepper and sauté until fully
cooked. (Drain excess liquid and fat only if preferred.)
• Stir in half of the chopped garlic and mix thoroughly with the meat.
Taste for salt and pepper adjustment. (Save the remaining garlic until
the end.)
• Stir in canned, crushed plum tomatoes and canned diced tomatoes (fire roasted if available) .
• Add the tomato paste and gradually pour in the tomato sauce to blend.
• Fold in the remaining ingredients (except the the chopped garlic).
Remaining ingredients: dried bay leaf, parsley flakes, Marsala cooking
wine, beets with juice, grated parmesan cheese, ground Allspice, anchovy
paste, capers, and sugar. (Note: sugar reduces any bitterness and
enhances flavors. Add gradually and taste as you go.)
• Allow sauce to simmer on low heat for a minimum of one hour, stirring
occasionally to avoid sticking or burning. Add the remaining garlic
during the last 15 minutes of cooking for a final infusion of rich
flavor.
• Serve sauce with desired pasta. Suggestions follow.

Pasta Suggestions:

I like to serve this pasta sauce over any pasta with
ridges on the sides. If you enjoy spaghetti style pasta, look for
“spaghetti rigati” which has ridges along the noodle. Boil the pasta in
well salted water. Italians say the water should taste “like the sea”.
(Don’t overdo it, though. This, you learn with experience.) Be sure the
water has come to a rapid boil before adding salt. Then add a little
olive oil to help prevent sticking and toss in the pasta. Cook until al dente
(still slightly firm “to the tooth”) – never too soft. Use tongs or
pasta ladle to pull the pasta from the boiling water, allowing it to
drain before depositing into a large bowl. Drizzle with a small amount
of olive oil and toss. Serve with the sauce ladled over the top of the pasta, or drop the pasta into your large skillet of sauce and toss to incorporate before serving.  Mangia! Mangia! Enjoy! 

Robert Reoch

Copyright Robert George Reoch

Saint Patrick’s Day or The Feast of Saint Patrick

What Is Saint Patrick’s Day?

St. Patricks Day

Saint Patrick’s Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick

Saint Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated on 17 March. It is named after Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland. Saint Patrick was a Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. The patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick is one of Christianity’s most widely known figures. However, for all his celebrity, his life remains somewhat of a mystery. Many exaggerated stories of St. Patrick are traditionally told, including the famous account of his banishing all the snakes from Ireland. The stories, although false, are the products of hundreds of years of embellished lore.

Some of What is Known About St. Patrick

Saint Patrick was born to wealthy parents in Britain near the end of the 4th century. At the age of 16, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and transported to Ireland where he was held captive for six years. There is dispute over as to where in Ireland this captivity took place. During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian. After a voice from God compelled him to escape, he traveled hundreds of miles on foot, back in Britain. In a second revelation, an angel told him to return to Ireland as a missionary. He began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than 15 years. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission: to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish.

Saint Patrick’s Day Celebrations

Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early seventeenth century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion (especially the Church of Ireland), the Eastern Orthodox Church, and Lutheran Church. St. Patrick’s Day commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, as well as Irish heritage and culture in general.

St. Patrick’s Day Green

Shamrock

Saint Patrick’s Day involves public parades and festivals, and wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Christians also attend church services and the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day. Originally, the color associated with Saint Patrick was blue. Over the years, the color green replaced blue in Saint Patrick’s Day observances. Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of St Patrick’s Day as early as the 17th century. Saint Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity (The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) to the pagan Irish, hence the wearing of shamrocks and shamrock-inspired designs has become a popular tradition of the day. The phrase, “the wearing of the green,” is derived from wearing a shamrock on one’s clothing. In the 1798 rebellion, to draw attention and make a political statement, Irish soldiers wore full green uniforms on 17 March.

St. Patrick’s Day in the United States

Green Beer

Green Beer

St. Patrick’s Day, although not a legal holiday in the United States, is widely recognized throughout the country. It is primarily observed as a celebration of Irish and Irish American culture with celebrations including prominent displays of the color green, feasting, religious observances, and numerous parades. Many celebrants also engage in the copious consumption of alcohol, including drinking “green beer” (beer that has been tinted green). The traditions have been carried-on in North America since the late eighteenth century. Some of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades are held in the cities of Boston and New York, and in Chicago, where the Chicago River is died green each year in recognition of the holiday.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Montreal Canada

One of the longest-running Saint Patrick’s Day parades in North America occurs each year in Montreal, whose city flag includes a shamrock in its lower-right quadrant. The parades have been held there continually since 1824.

London, England Celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day

London has held an annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade since 2002. It takes place on weekends around the 17th, usually in Trafalgar Square. In 2008, the water in the Trafalgar Square fountains was dyed green. Some excellent information sources about St. Patrick’s Day include Wikipedia and History.com.

Robert Reoch

Copyright Robert George Reoch

Halloween Cookies

Halloween Cookies

Check out my Halloween creations. This recipe tastes as good as it looks.

Robert Reoch Halloween Cookies

Boo!

Halloween Cookies Recipe

Ingredients:

3 cups all purpose flour (for a looser crumb, substitute half the flour with finely ground almonds)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cardamom (optional, or 1/4 tsp. pumpkin spice for Halloween)
1 1/2 cup butter, softened (3 sticks)
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp vanilla extract (optional) If used, add one extra tablespoon of flour

Directions:

Whisk together flour, salt, spice in a mixing bowl and set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla to combine until ingredients are well blended.

With mixer on lowest speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture until all ingredients are combined (about 45 seconds – do not over mix). Divide dough into 3 portions and flatten into a disk shape. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, or up to 2 days (or freeze for another day).

Remove dough from refrigerator 20-30 minutes before rolling out. If you attempt to roll while it is still too cold, dough will crack along the edges. If the dough becomes too soft while using, refrigerate again for 15 minutes.

Transfer dough to a clean work surface which has been lightly dusted with flour. Remember to rub flour on rolling pin often to prevent sticking. Roll out to 1/8 to 1/4-inch thickness.

Dip cookie cutters in flour before cutting. Cut into desired frightful Halloween shapes. Carefully arrange cookies on parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Parchment paper helps to prevent over browning the bottom of the cookies.

Preheat oven to 350°F and bake for 8-10 minutes, depending upon the size of the cookies. Smaller, thinner cookies will take less time to bake. Larger, thicker cookies will take longer. It doesn’t pay to walk away from the oven while baking cookies. Set a timer for 8 minutes and  peek to check progress. Stand by during the final few minutes of baking. When edges just begin to turn golden brown, cookies are done. Remove pans from oven to cooling racks. After 5 minutes remove individual cookies from pans to cooling racks. Allow cookies to cool completely before decorating.

For decorating, experiment with your favorite homemade icings and food colorings, and/or use store bought tubes of colored icings and sprinkles. Have fun! Remember, sugar is a natural preservative. Your cookies should remain fresh and edible for several days after baking and decorating. Store them in plastic containers with lids, using sheets of waxed paper between layers of cookies.

Happy Halloween!
Robert Reoch

Copyright Robert George Reoch

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!

Robert Reoch Cupcakes
Leave these babies out
for the Easter Bunny.

 

Happy Easter!

Robert Reoch

Copyright Robert George Reoch 2009-2013

Peanut Butter and Jelly Squares Chocolate Ganache Drizzle

Peanut Butter and Jelly Squares Chocolate Ganache Drizzle

I baked these babies from a favorite recipe and took them up a notch by drizzling-on some homemade chocolate ganache. Oy! Just an example of my little baking hobby (and dedicated to my someone special who loves these!) I wish everyone could eat one of these melt-in-your-mouth monsters! Ha!

Peanut Butter Jelly Squares
“Oink, Oink!”

Thanks for reading and see you at the gym. Yikes!

Robert Reoch

Copyright Robert George Reoch Publishing

Six Hour Birthday Cake

Birthday Cake Took Six Hours of Love

Monster Birthday Cake

Robert Reoch 6-Hour Birthday Cake

This is devotion.

Robert Reoch Cake 2

Tasted even better than it looked. Happy Birthday Joon!

I spent around six hours baking this monster birthday cake for someone very special to me. This chocolate and cherry bomb had it all goin’ on, including the most decadent chocolate ganache frosting dripping with cherries and little mandarin orange segments (some of Joon’s favorite things.) The best part was in the eating—

Yum!

Robert Reoch

Copyright Robert George Reoch Publishing

Christmas Cookies

Christmas Cookies

Cookies Cookies Cookies I’m a Cookie Monster

The main reason I enjoy baking Christmas cookies is to eat them! My recipe for butter cookies includes cardamom (the secret spice that reminds your taste buds it’s holiday season). With a few well-chosen cookie cutters, some colored icing, and a little finesse, these tasty gems make the season right. Ha!

Christmas Cookies Robert ReochChristmas Cookies Robert Reoch

 

 

 

Christmas Cookies Robert Reoch

 

 

 

Merry Christmas!

Robert Reoch

Copyright Robert George Reoch Publishing

Pumpkin Cupcakes

Today, just for fun, I made cupcakes. I used a mix from one of TV’s more famous ladies (the one without shoes). Delicious pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, which I cranked up with some pumpkin spices.


Yes, these taste even better than they look! I’m getting good
at this stuff. Yum!
Happy Holidays!

Robert George Reoch

Copyright Robert George Reoch 2009-2013

Spring Break Reading Store for Your Online Shopping

Spring Break Reading Store

Bookmark this site for your online shopping. Everything you need can be found at my Spring Break Reading store with highly recommended products at the best prices anywhere. Click on the image below and browse through the  list of categories, then bookmark the site. Make this your first choice for convenient online shopping!

                                                  

Copyright Robert George Reoch 2009-2013

Pizza!

Pizza.

“Pizza!”  

Pizza . . . that’s all–just pizza.

“Well yeah, but it’s pizza!

I know.  Made you look, didn’t  I!

“Ha!”

You might as well take a look around while you’re here. . .

“Yeah. . . but ya know?”

What?

“Just . . . you know.”

Yup.

Copyright Robert George Reoch 2009-2013

Russell Stover?

Russell Stover Valentine Box

Two nights ago, I opened a small heart-shaped box of chocolates (from Russell Stover), which I had received a few days ago on Valentines Day. They were one of those items you find in drug stores, like CVS, so I had not been in a hurry to open them on Valentine’s Day. I wasn’t expecting much.

However, I am writing this now because I was just thinking of going out and buying some more Russell Stover chocolates. I must admit they were absolutely delicious! Two days after eating them, I am still thinking about them. I had not had Russell Stover chocolates in quite a long time. It is easy to confuse brands of chocolates sold in franchise stores. I usually ignore them when I shop.

The point is, I am going back for more. I have also added them to this site. You can order them with a few clicks. I must stress that I never list items on my site that I would not buy myself.

So, if you are in the mood to splurge on some really tasty chocolates, (I love the milk chocolate cream and the truffles), order some now and you will have something to get excited about as you anticipate their arriving at your door soon.

Chocolate. M-m-m-m . . .

My Grade: A

Robert George Reoch

Copyright Robert George Reoch 2009-2013

The Great Pumpkin Cheesecake Disaster of 2011

The Great Pumpkin Cheesecake Disaster of 2011 (Almost)

At Least It Tasted Good…

I bought myself a new stand mixer because I had never used one and I found a really great deal on a new one. After so many years of watching Martha Stewart and The Barefoot Contessa merrily whirring their machines, I finally decided to expand my own baking horizons. (I will spare you any plugging of the brand name until I have more experience with it.)

Of course, the first recipe I tried out, using my new mixer, was for one of the most difficult culinary confections to bake–a cheesecake.

I thought it would be useful to share my experience so that others may benefit by learning from my baking gaffs. My photos (below) really help tell the story. 

I decided to make it a pumpkin cheesecake instead of just a plain everyday cheesecake. (Thrill seeker, me.) I also decided to make it low-fat, so I could be proud of myself for baking healthy. (Freak, me.) I had months ago found a good recipe for pumpkin cheesecake, so that gave me a good place to start. The process includes several involved steps, just as on TV cooking shows. Baking always takes me longer than TV cooks, though, because I’m a neat freak and I clean up as I go. I also tend to mull over every step repeatedly as I execute a process. I know that in baking, you can’t go back and fix things. You just have to start over if you mess up. A lot of good that does a scatter brain like me.

I had read somewhere that one could substitute “farmer’s cheese” for cream cheese in recipes to drastically reduce fat. I had never even heard of farmers cheese, yet I found it right next to the cream cheese at my local grocery store. It’s worth it to take a chance to save some fat calories, right?

I assembled all my ingredients, first allowing this and that to come to room temperature (eggs, butter, and farmer’s cheese). I proceeded to measure and sift and dump things into my new stand mixer, one at a time, as per directions. I also very wisely unplugged my mixer each time I changed paddles and whisks so as to avoid breaking any tools or digits.

I assembled my springform pan (also a first-time implement for me) and then pressed-in my homemade graham cracker and toasted pecans crust, and baked it according to directions. Then I poured in my new pumpkin cheesecake batter.

I followed the rest of the directions, including placing the cake in a bath of water in a roasting pan. Eventually, I had the cake in and out of the oven in exactly 90 minutes, just as the recipe suggested. (I should have paid more attention to my own instincts when I removed the cake from the oven and noticed it seemed a bit too wiggly.)

As directed, I allowed the cake to cool for thirty minutes and then put it in the refrigerator for four long hours to cool. (The recipe called for chilling the cake for four hours or overnight.) Meantime, I prepared honey glazed pecans for topping the cake as the final touch.

Once I had taken the cake back out of the refrigerator and carefully removed it from the springform pan, I clumsily arranged the sticky pecans over the top. It looked amazing! I was so proud, I took this photo of it:

                     

Beautiful, eh? I even placed my pumpkin cheesecake on a fancy gold charger plate, as you cn see. La-tee-da.

When it finally came time to cut and serve a few slices of my fabulous cheesecake, my pride gave way to disappointment. A couple of poor decisions came with consequences.

It turns out my low fat farmers cheese isn’t as creamy as cream cheese. It has a consistency more like ricotta (it being a tad watery). The cake also didn’t set up as I had hoped. I probably should have kept the cake in the oven for another 30 minutes. Also, I put the bottom of the springform pan in upside down. The result of that was the pan bottom lip was on the outside edge of the crust, preventing me from sliding a knife cleanly underneath to lift out the first slice. Another goof was my too large chunks of pecans on the top of the cake. I didn’t chop them up small enough, so while slicing the cake I needed to move my nuts around in order to make a clean line from where to insert the knife. (I had to move my nuts around. Ha!)

The first slice was a mess. It went as badly as it could. What ended up on the plate looked like canned dog food, all gushy and broken up. The second slice held up better. The outside of the cake had firmed up okay, but the center was still rather weak. The second slice stayed half intact. (I was also able to get underneath the bottom crust better on the second slice.)

As you can see by photographic evidence of the disaster (below), the center of the cake slumped like a sinkhole after the first slices were removed.

                 

The moral of the story is don’t try to reinvent the wheel on your first test drive of your stand mixer by fiddling with a cheesecake recipe. Even though my mixer stood up well and did its job, my tasty pumpkin cheesecake might have turned out a lot better if I had used regular cream cheese. Forget cutting the fat. It’s cheesecake goddammit! Also, be sure you put the bottom of your springform pan right side up, with the lip facing out of the bottom, not inside. And, if your cheesecake is still jiggly through most of the middle after baking for the suggested time, you probably need to bake it longer. That was probably my biggest mistake. I was afraid I would overcook it. Not next time.

[Jump ahead 12 hours.]

The following morning, after the cheesecake had chilled in the refrigerator overnight, it had actually set completely. I was able to trim away the part that had sunk, leaving half of the cheesecake standing up fine and slicing neatly. And, not to boast, but it even tasted better the next day! Yum! At this writing, I have actually eaten at least half of the cake myself, while the rest of the household has stayed away (having been horrified the night before by its frightening collapse).

Keeping with my usual calorie counting strategy, I ate less of any other foods today, while I helped myself to extra cheesecake. I realized late in the day that my body was feeling like it was actually burning fat. Apparently, because my cheesecake was made using low-fat farmer’s cheese, I probably didn’t consume the same amount of calories I would otherwise eat on a Sunday of TV football and splurging. Makes you sick, doesn’t it? The pumpkin cheesecake diet by Robert George Reoch.

I plan on trying this experiment again next weekend. Maybe I’ll use real cream cheese too. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Robert George Reoch

About My Blog:

There’s plenty more to discover on my blog, such as my books of short stories. Available in print as well as digital formats for any computer, including wireless delivery. 
 
Fascinating shorts stories.  Not your typical newsstand fare. Engaging reading anytime. Click on the images below for more information on Amazon:


                      
       

Copyright Robert George Reoch 2009-2013

Red Velvet Cakes

Comparing Two Red Velvet Cakes

I baked a red velvet cake in January. You may recall I tweeted about it on Twitter. Today I baked another one and it begs for comparison because the two cakes did not turn out the same and I’m dying to share my discovery.

In January I had a craving for red velvet cake only because a red cake looks yummy, like something out of a Dr. Suess book. I had seen red velvet cake on dessert menus in restaurants and on bakery shelves, but I had never gotten around to eating the stuff, so I decided to bake one myself.

I knew they had red velvet cake mix in the grocery store, however just when I decided to bake my cartoon cake, none of the stores in my area had the mix in stock. I ended up buying a Betty Crocker white cake mix–with the brilliant idea of dying the batter red, using food coloring. After learning on the internet just how much red dye would be required, I needed to visit three stores and still didn’t quite have the suggested amount of red stuff. I wound up using three tubes of red food coloring (.25 oz each) plus one tube of red decorating gel. Red is red, right? I was optimistic.

The results were actually quite good! My two-layer cake turned out tall and fluffy and there was just enough dye in the mix to render a vibrant deep pink–nearly red–color. It looked downright Dr. Seussian as you can see by these photos:

                        

Fast forward seven months. I recently found a box of red velvet cake mix at my grocery store, so I grabbed it. After allowing the box to sit on my shelf for a month until I was in the mood, today I went ahead and baked an official red velvet cake using actual red velvet cake mix.

This one didn’t turn out nearly as pretty as the first one. I used a Duncan Hines red velvet cake mix. After mixing the eggs, water, and oil, I opened the package and added the cake mix. I noticed the mix appeared brown in color as though it were originally for a chocolate cake. ?? As soon as the mix hit the liquid ingredients, it began changing to a deep red color. It reminded me of tempera paints we used in grade school. My bowl of cake batter became a swirl of brown and blood red liquid. I stirred and beat the mix with an electric beater for two minutes as directed and popped the two round 9″ pans into the oven to bake.

Then things got little ugly. The cake baked for exactly the time recommended. A tooth pick came out clean. Oddly, this cake rose mainly in the center and hardly at all on the sides. After cooling, I needed to slice off a substantial portion of the top of each layer in order to level them off. Thus, my cake was not very tall as a result. (But I had large enough pieces leftover to cut out two rounds and make a moon pie. Ha!)

As you can see in the photos below, the official red velvet cake mix made a pretty dark cake. I think I prefer my earlier version using white cake mix and red food coloring better. The only other difference in the two cakes is that in the first one I used a layer of caramel in the center whereas for the second cake I used white frosting and tart cherry preserves for the center:

                              

Between the two cakes, they both tasted pretty satisfying even though I used canned, whipped white frosting for both cakes. (It seemed the Dr. Seussish thing to do.) And because of the high calorie content, we made cake and ice cream the whole of our dinner. Grownups can do that (once in awhile). Ha!

I am getting good at freezing leftover cake.

We’ll be eating red velvet cake for weeks again. There probably won’t be a third cake for comparison any time soon, but who knows?

Robert George Reoch

 (the moon pie)

[About This Site]

There’s plenty more to discover here including my books of short stories. Click on the images below for more about them. My books are also available in digital formats for any computer, including wireless delivery. 
 
Fascinating shorts stories.  Great for the those times when you don’t feel like a heavy novel. Not your typical newsstand fare, either. Engaging reading anytime.

        
                               
                            

Copyright Robert George Reoch 2009-2013

Wild Twist on Stroganoff and Swedish Meatballs

Robert George Reoch’s Meatballs in Mushroom Sauce Over Noodles

The next time you are in the mood for a comforting noodle dish covered in a rich meatball sauce, try my original recipe. This low fat recipe is easy to follow, yet with layers of flavor that will long be remembered after the meal. The key elements that make this recipe a stand out are the use of dried mint and cinnamon. Those distinctive flavors along with a background note of cognac or marsala cooking wine provide a complex array on the palette.

Lean ground beef or turkey work equally well with this recipe. I use regular ground turkey because it is more healthful and makes a lighter meatball.

For the novice cook, my recipe includes short cuts. The more experienced may choose to imbue their culinary skills by using their own from-scratch bechamel instead of cream-of-mushroom soup, although preparation will  take longer. Simple substitutions to suit personal preferences are included in the recipe:

Ingredients:

1 lb. lean ground beef or (Regular ground turkey works equally well.)
1 egg beaten
3/4 cup dried plain bread crumbs
1 tbsp dried mint
2 tsp dried cinnamon
1 cup Marsala cooking wine or brandy or cognac
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh coarsely ground pepper
2 tbsp finely minced garlic
1/2 small onion finely minced
2 cans cream-of-mushroom soup or 4 cups prepared bechamel (omit nutmeg)
1 cup sauteed sliced mushrooms (optional)
1/2 small package frozen peas (optional)
1 package broad egg noodles prepared per product instructions (Time the cooking of the noodles to coincide with completion of meatballs in sauce.)

           Note: Be sure to distinguish between tsp (teaspoon) and tbsp (tablespoon) in measuring ingredients to avoid improper seasoning.

1) In a large bowl combine dried mint, cinnamon, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Mix well. Then, add minced garlic and onion and toss to distribute.
 
2) Add beaten egg and ground beef or turkey. Mix well with hands. Form mixture into tablespoon-sized meatballs, lightly squeezing to compress, and one at a time rolling lightly between the palms of the hands to form round balls. Set meatballs onto separate plate while preparing.

3) Heat extra large saute pan to medium-high heat. (Copper bottom pans should never be heated higher than medium-high to avoid damaging.) Spray saute pan with cooking spray or use a very thin layer of olive oil. Heat until hot.

4) Set meatballs in pan, evenly apart. Allow to brown three to five minutes, then turn to continue browning on opposite sides. Pan may require deglazing with liquid (cooking wine or cognac) to loosen meatballs if they don’t roll in the pan freely, being gentle to avoid breakage. (Note: if a few meatballs stick or break, don’t panic. They are still edible and will mingle well in the sauce. It also gives you a chance to taste a few pieces for doneness. Use caution when cooking with wine or cognac. Remove the pan from the lit burner to avoid flaming, and then return to heat after the liquid has bubbled down slightly.)

5) Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, empty contents of 2 cans of mushroom soup and add 1 cup of Marsala cooking wine (or cognac or brandy). You may substitute water or non-fat milk. Stir in a few dashes of dried mint and ground pepper to balance the flavor with the meatballs. Warm this sauce to an even consistency.

6) Once the meatballs are cooked almost to desired doneness, add the mushroom sauce to the saute pan with the meatballs. Toss in frozen peas and or extra sauteed mushrooms (if desired). Stir the contents gently to coat the meatballs and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes before serving. Keep an eye on the mixture to avoid burning. (Add water, as desired, to loosen the sauce if it becomes too thick.)

7) Serve meatballs and sauce immediately over plated cooked noodles.

Serving suggestion: Serve with a small side salad of fresh arugula drizzled very lightly with a tangy dressing (Italian or Balsamic vinegar and oil, or lemon juice and garlic).

Enjoy!

Robert George Reoch

About This Site:

 

There is plenty more to discover on this site including my sensational books of short stories. Click on the images below for more information. My books are also available in digital formats for any computer, including wireless delivery. 
 
Fascinating shorts stories.  Great for the those times when you don’t feel like a heavy novel. Not your typical newsstand fare, either. Engaging reading anytime.
        
                               
                            

Copyright Robert George Reoch 2009-2013

Counting Calories Seriously and Seriously Counting Calories

Counting Calories Seriously – Seriously Counting Calories

This is by far one of the easiest tips for losing weight and maintaining your existing weight.

The objective is to set a fixed number of calories and to limit the total calories you consume during a single day by sticking to that number without going over it. Going 100 calories over or under won’t hurt if you take it seriously.

Most people don’t have any idea of the total calories they consume during the day. It only takes a little practice to get pretty good at estimating your total intake each day. Foods are labeled. Read the label before you eat something (or look it up on the internet if it isn’t labeled).  Don’t even worry about fresh vegetables. You can’t go wrong with those. High sugar (fructose) fruits, such as oranges, do pack substantial calories though. So, count those accordingly. Remember to look at the portion size and number of portions on a packaging label. You may be eating one package, but that package may consist of several servings. You need to be sure you count the total calories you consume. Don’t fool yourself my misreading the label. Seriously counting calories is easy after you read a few labels and get the general idea.

Average required daily calories for an average male of approximately 5’9″ and 140 to 155 pounds is 2,000 calories. Women, you know you need to adjust this downward a little. Suppose you want to lose weight. You need to either consume fewer calories or burn off extra. I recently discovered that your total calorie intake matters far more than the number of calories you think you expend exercising. In other words, even if you run three miles to try and burn off that extra piece of pizza or cake, the total calories you took in during the day will still have more impact on your waistline, although the exercise certainly helps.

Here is a slightly extreme example of how I lost ten pounds over a period of a few months. I simply put a cap of 1,000 calories per day on my intake. Believe it or not, I did not starve myself. I always take a multi-vitamin, so I wasn’t too worried about poor nutrition, and I rarely felt hungry. I always waited an hour or so after rising to eat a very light breakfast (an individual container of non-fat yogurt: 90 calories). Then for lunch, I usually ate a protein bar (200 calories) or perhaps a small portion of leftovers from dinner, plus a handful of nuts and cranberries. (I make my own mix of store bought bulk raw almonds and dried cranberries and or cherries. It’s easy and fun.) (Total lunch calories approx. 300 calories.)

At this point in the day, I have consumed approx. 600 calories. For dinner, I have room for 410 calories which can be a normal serving of spaghetti with light meat sauce (I make mine with ground turkey), or a large slice of pizza. In addition, I can add to that all the fresh veggies I want in any combination (salad or raw pieces) with light dressing and that’s that. I’m still way under 2,000 calories and I am dropping weight quickly, day by day. 

There are plenty of ways to switch this up. I could pig out at lunch and then eat a really light dinner of soup and low fat crackers or salad. You don’t have to write down the number of calories of everything you eat. Try and keep a running total in your head (or jot that down if it helps) after each meal. For example, I always knew if I ate the same yogurt each morning, I was as 100 calories after breakfast (round it up). After lunch, I could add whatever those calories were to the 100. That’s easy! Then by dinner, I can easily determine what my limit will be to stay under my target number.

Taking this calorie counting a little further–but not quite as extreme, I could still add 500 calories to this example and stay under 2,000. I would still lose weight effectively. This means, I could eat a delicious crazy dessert after dinner and enjoy it! (Try every other day, just for discipline.) How about having that 500 calorie chocolate cake and ice cream? Or, have a couple of homemade brownies. No sweat! As long as I stay under 2,000 calories, I am still going to lose weight.

Guess what else? It does not matter as much whether the calories are fat, protein, or carbs. It’s the total calories that determines whether your body is overloaded or not. As long as you cut off your eating at, say, 8 PM, and are done for the day, and as long as you have stayed within your target, you are going to lose fat and inches.

It takes 21 days to create a new habit. Stick to this plan for at least 21 days and it will become second nature. Watch those pounds and inches melt away by simply incorporating this daily calorie limit. Incorporate that with a cut off time for eating for an even more effective weight management plan.

Count Calories Seriously by Seriously Counting Calories. Stick to your own magic number.

Robert George Reoch

[About This Site]

There’s plenty more to discover on this site including the fascinating books I have written of short stories. Click on the images below for more information. My books are delightful reading and priced low.  They are also available in digital formats for iPad, Kindle, PC, and Ebook in general, including wireless 3G delivery. 
 
Fascinating shorts stories. A wide variety of themes and memorable characters. Great for the those times when you don’t feel like a heavy novel. Engaging reading anytime.

                       

Copyright Robert George Reoch 2009-2013