Tag Archives: recipes

Novice Cook: Chocolate Chip Pie

Last weekend we had a little party for Patrick’s birthday and I was in charge of making dessert.  The hubs has two favorite desserts.  Confetti cake with rainbow chip icing (out of the box, easy-peasy) and his mom’s chocolate chip pie.  Every year I’ve taken the easy way out and made confetti cake, but this year I was determined to make BOTH.

After two emails, a phone call, and a follow up text message, I finally figured out the basics of the recipe.  Why is it that moms/aunts/grandmas always make the best stuff but never write down an actual recipe?  I need steps, people.

Chocolate Chip Pie
This recipe has been in Patrick’s family for years, and every generation seems to have adapted it a bit.  Everyone seems to love it, even non-dessert lovers.


Graham Cracker Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of melted butter


  • 34 large marshmallows
  • 12 tablespoons of milk
  • 1 pint of real whipping cream
  • 3 oz of semi-sweet bakers chocolate, grated


Pre-heat oven to 350.  Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter  and press into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9×13 cake pan. Bake at 350 for six to 8 mins or follow directions on box.  Let cool.

Add marshmallows and milk to sauce pan and over med/low to low heat slowly melt marshmallows until smooth.  Set aside and let cool.

Whip the cream and fold in the cooled marshmallow mixture. Fold almost all of the grated chocolate into the whipped cream/marshmallow mixture. Pour over graham cracker crust and sprinkle with the rest of the grated chocolate. Cover and refrigerate.


Novice Cook Notes:

  1. Freeze the bowl and beater(s) for 10 minutes before whipping the cream
  2. Prep your grated chocolate while waiting for the marshmallows to cool.
  3. Grating the bakers chocolate is kind of tough!  Don’t give up!

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Helpful Information

We invited a few friends over for dinner last night, and we were both pretty psyched about it.  I began menu planning Sunday morning, made my recipe list, and went grocery shopping.  As we were loading the last bag into the car, my husband suddenly remembers that his friend’s girlfriend is a vegetarian.

I about lost it.  Seriously, my response was “Are you kidding me?  Please say you are kidding me.  This information would have been helpful AN HOUR AGO.”  Ahem.  Remember that I love this man.

Anyway, after I sent my sweet husband back to the grocery store by himself for a few extra supplies and time to reflect on his poor decisions, I started throwing together our “Casual Italian Dinner Party for Six”.

I used this super easy recipe for Bruschetta, which was a huge hit:


1 1/2 lbs. ripe Roma tomatoes
2 tbsp. finely chopped green onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan shavings
Toasted crusty bread  (I used french bread that I cut and place on a cookie sheet, and  brushed it with olive oil)

Instructions: Cut tomatoes in half, squeeze out seeds and excess juice.  Dice, place in bowl. Add onion, garlic, basil, vinegar, salt and pepper (to taste), and olive oil. Let sit at room temperature 1 hour.  Brush toasted bread lightly with olive oil. Spoon tomato mixture over bread, sprinkle with shaved Parmesan cheese.

Luckily, our vegetarian guest eats shrimp, and I was able to make an amazing spicy shrimp linguine recipe that I found from Emeril.

Since I’m relatively new to this whole “throwing effortlessly casual dinner parties” thing, I’ll share a couple of things that helped the evening run smoothly (and kept me sane):

-PREP, PREP, PREP!  My husband and I prepped all of the ingredients before our guests arrived, using our nested prep bowls (I found ours at TJ Maxx, but these are similar)

-I threw the french bread in the oven as soon as I heard our guests knock on the door.  By the time everyone had a drink in hand, the appetizer was ready.

-Clean as you go.  My grandma taught me this when I was little, and it’s always stuck with me.  It was nice not to worry about a huge mess after dinner, and just relax with our friends.

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Novice Cook: Homeade Tomato Soup

Growing up, I never liked tomato soup.  I loved grilled cheese and tomato soup day in the cafeteria, but only because of my extreme love for bread and cheese.   I’ve recently discovered my love for a good tomato soup, especially if it’s full of basil.

I decided to try out Jamie Oliver’s recipe for tomato soup and was really pleased with the results.  My husband even liked it, even though at first he wasn’t really excited about the whole tomato soup thing.  Here is the recipe, with my novice cook edits and comments:

• 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
• 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
• 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
(I put the onion, garlic, and carrot in my food processor to speed up the process)
• a handful of fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped
(since I love basil, I used a LARGE handful)
• olive oil
• 6 tablespoons double cream (I substituted FAGE 0% yogurt for a lower-fat version of this recipe and really loved it)
• 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
• 2 egg yolks
• 1kg super-ripe tomatoes (this is about 6 large tomatoes)
• 1.1 litres chicken or vegetable stock (37 oz or about 4 1/2 cups)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put your onion, garlic, carrot and basil stalks into a large pot with a couple of lugs of olive oil. Cover the pan, and simmer gently without colouring for 20 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. Whisk together the cream, vinegar and egg yolks in a small bowl and put to one side. While the veg are simmering, drop the tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds, then remove the skins and roughly chop the flesh. (I skipped this step and just added the tomatoes to the boiling broth/veg mixture because I like the flavor that the skins add to the soup.) Add these to the veg, then pour in the stock and simmer for a further 20 minutes with the lid on. At this point it’s nice to purée the soup using either a food processor, a liquidizer or a hand-held blender, but be careful as it will be hot. (I used my actual blender, but man do I wish I had an immersion blender.) Once you’ve puréed the soup, put it back into the pan, bring it back to a simmer, and season very carefully with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Just before serving, to enrich the soup and give it a shine and silky texture, whisk in the cream mixture (don’t reboil it after adding the egg yolks or it will scramble) and serve straight away, sprinkled with a few torn-up basil leaves, if you like.

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Novice Cook: Butternut Squash Soup

It’s finally starting to feel like fall here in New Orleans, and my Midwestern roots have me craving apple cider, pumpkin pie, and butternut squash.  Last week I sampled some delicious butternut squash soup at my local Whole Foods, and was inspired to try out the recipe.  Ever since we received our awesome cooking tools from our wedding registry, I’ve had more confidence in the kitchen.  Armed with my squash from the farmers market and the relatively simple ingredient list, I was ready to go.

…and then I realized I didn’t even know how to cube butternut squash!  I did my google research and found this woman’s incredibly detailed explanation.  Bless her.  If you are a novice cook like I am, I have the following edits:

-If you follow her advice and microwave the squash first, you can use a vegetable peeler to take off the skin.  It’s much easier than using a knife.

-Umm, you may want to make sure the cutting board is more than an inch away from the counter edge.  I may or may not have ended up with squash cubes on the floor.

-You can use a regular old blender if you don’t have an immersion blender.

-If you want a creamy texture, use the minimum amount of stock (4 cups, or even a little less).  I had WAY too much, and ended up having to strain some out.

It ended up turning out really well, and I will definitely be making it again.  Next time I may add something to sweeten it up a bit, like apples or nutmeg.


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