The Joyful Chef

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Cooking Adventures


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Posted by jessingh84 on May 31, 2012 at 10:10 AM Comments comments (0)



BOY WHAT A DAY!!! Being unemployed leaves me with a great deal of time on my hands! And today I decided that I was going to buy a grill, bring it home, put it together, and then make myself some YUMMMYYYY DELICIOUSO BBQ!!! Boy was I in for a treat. First, the box wouldn’t fit into my car, so I asked my helpful Target employee to take the contents out of the box and help me fit it all into my car. When I got home I quickly realized exactly why it had taken THREE guys to get the entire thing into my car, and then it took me another three hours to realize that there was NO WAY that I was going to put this thing together. So four hours later I was back and Target returning the grill, and then off to Lowes to do what I should have done in the first place: rent a truck and buy a fully assembled model from the year before. Who said I had to have the latest grill? =) Now if they were shoes that would be something completely different, but I’m happy to announce that my last year model grill is working just fine, and it only took a bit of guts to drive the van home and some elbow grease-and a dive into the grass as the grill and I tipped over-to get that baby home!


I believe in brining my chicken prior to cooking, so two hours before (or at least 15 minutes depending on how much time you have) put your chicken legs (this is for one lb of chicken, if you use more, simply double the recipe) into a pot of 4 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/8 cup brown sugar, 2 cloves garlic smashed with the side of a knife, and two sprigs of thyme.

For the BBQ sauce mix three cups of bbq sauce with the following:

1 tablesppon chili powder

¼ teaspoon cumin

1/3 cup brown sugar

½ onion finely chopped

1 teaspoon to ½ tablespoon garlic powder

3 tablespoon brown mustard

¼ cup vinegar

½ cup ketchup

3 cups bbq sauce

1 teaspoon paprika


Black pepper

1 tsp. Worchester sauce

Mix all the ingredients together.

Simply pull the chicken out of the brine after 2 hours, brush some bbq sauce on the chicken and set aside.

Heat up your grill and then grill your chicken. Be sure to brush bbq sauce over the chicken each time you turn it over and continue to do so until three minutes before taking the chicken off the grill. (Due to the sugar in your BBQ sauce, it is not advisable for you to brush the sauce over the chicken right before removing it from the grill since that will not give the sugar and flavors enough time to break down and cook).

Serve with corn, mashed potatoes, or any other grilled goodies your can think of 


Birthday Cupcakes for A Christmas Birthday

Posted by jessingh84 on December 30, 2011 at 11:30 PM Comments comments (2)

Vanilla cupcakes with whipped cream frosting for a Christmas birthday! 

Recipe to come soon!

Look At These Bad Boys!

Posted by jessingh84 on November 11, 2011 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (3)

Take A Look At These Bad Boys!


Can you guess what these are?  CRANBERRIES!!! I can't wait to use these for...well something!  I'm thinking cranberry muffins, any other ideas!? 


Posted by jessingh84 on November 10, 2011 at 9:55 PM Comments comments (3)



Although these blondies were better suited for Halloween, I didn't get around to making these until today: Fat Witch blondies :) They were yummy!  The recipe is based off of a company that started in NY, and now seem to be an online based company that ships out yummy brownies every chance they get! 


(I love them gooey and slightly undercooked so that I can toast them later on and add a scoop of ice cream)

The Recipe For these Bad Girls are from the Fat Witch: The Brownie Cook book:

8 Tbsp. unsalted temperature, room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 ¼ cups packed light brown sugar

1 Tbsp. molasses

2 tsp. vanilla

1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. baking soda

2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

½ coarsely chopped pecans (optional)

Butter & flour a 9X9-inch baking pan, tapping out excess. Preheat oven to 350 °F.

Cream butter and eggs together. Beat in sugar, molasses, and vanilla until blended. Measure out flour, salt, and baking soda and sift together into the butter mixture. Gently mix batter just until no trace of dry ingredients can be seen. Stir in chips and pecans.

Transfer batter into your prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool on rack for 1 hour. Cut just before serving. Yields 12-16 bars.

Homemade Pizza!!

Posted by jessingh84 on November 5, 2011 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)



My aunt, who was one of the inspirations for me to start cooking, was home all week. So naturally, she baked, cooked, and kicked my grandmother out of her domain-the kitchen. Lucky for me I was around for some of her endeavors, including her delicious homemade pepper and onion pizza.



Bell peppers -about a quarter of each red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, and orange bell pepper. Green works just as well too, just in case those aren't in season. Cut into strips

Onions-about a quarter, cut into strips.

1 piece of garlic (med size) chopped

mozzarella cheese-1/4 cup-1/2 cup depending on how cheese you want.

pizza dough (the bakery around here sells 1 lb pizza dough for $1, so we tend to just buy the bakery one and let it rise).


homemade pizza sauce or jar spaghetti sauce -either will do. About 1/2 cup or less, depending on how saucy you want it

salt and pepper to taste,

1 teaspoon garlic powder.

about a tablespoon chopped basil


1. Chop up the garlic.


2. Cut the bell peppers and onions into strips

3. In a frying pan, heat up about two tea spoons of oil, or enough to coat the pan. On med-high heat, when heated the oil is hot, throw in the garlic, and let it brown for about a minute or two. Then throw in the peppers, and stir. Add garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Let this cook for another 5 minutes on low-med heat.

4. Flour you work surface. Take your risen pizza dough and begin to knead it into a circular shape. Then roll out the dough with a rolling pin, unless of course you are skilled enough to stretch the dough in the air.

5. Transfer the dough to a well oiled pizza pan.

6. Spread the pizza sauce over the dough making sure to avoid the portion which will be the crust.

7. Sprinkle the chopped basil

8. Sprinkle the pepper and onion mixture over the pizza

9. Sprinkle the cheese over the pizza

10. Bake for 10-15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.





Posted by jessingh84 on November 4, 2011 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

High school was the normal up and down rollercoaster which included unwanted pimples, awkward moments, and lots of growing up. Thankfully I was lucky enough to have close girlfriends who loved almost everything I did: books, cooking, and lacrosse. Andrea, of the aforementioned friends, celebrated her 23rd B-day yesterday, and I just wanted to wish her a happy b-day and post these scrumpcious cupcakes I made in honor of her big day! 

I wish I could celebrate with you hun, and I hope you had an amazing birthday!  Your gorgeous, a wonderful friend, a caring person, and always fun to be around.  I hope you have many more birthdays, and years to come.  <3


Happy Birthday John

Posted by jessingh84 on November 4, 2011 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (1)

Nov. 3 is the day of birthday! Among other people, John and Andrea-a close friend from High School, celebrated their special day!

As planned, I constructed a 17 inch Croquembouche. Unfortunately I with all of the commotion I didn't get to take a final picture with the sugar spun around it! Since Croquembouche are cream puffs and Persian crème puffs, the inspiration for the cake, is filled with rose flavored whipped cream, the entire thing had to be baked, filled, and assembled within a reasonable amount of time of it being consumed. =/ well yesterday was the perfect exampled of : KEEP IT SIMPLE SILLY!! Earlier this week i had picked up "The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts: The French Culinary Institute" and unfortunately, their recipes, are far from ideal for the hope chef, and while following their baking directions, I successfully burned the first batch of the cream puffs! Now, I have been making choux a pate dough science middle school-I even made a batch for a friend of my mother's when she got married! So, I should have known better, but thankfully I was able to whip up another batch with my trusty recipe, and assemble it just in time:

Making the dough for cream puff is quite simple, and as Michael Ruhlman would say, is a simple ratio. For home cooks that would prefer a simple recipe, here it is:

1 cup water

1/2 cup butter or 1 stick

1 cup flour

4 large eggs

Heat the butter and water to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat when the butter is melted, and the mixture is simmering. Lower the heat to medium and quickly mix in the flour until the dough forums and it pulls away from the sides of the pan.

Let the mixture cool for four to five minutes. If you are going to use a stand mixer, pour the mixture into the mixing bowl. If not, you can transfer the mixture to a bowl or use the same pot. Use a wooden spoon to mix in the eggs one at a time. The mixture will be shinny as you add in the first two eggs and then become sticky, almost furry as all the eggs are mixed in.

The mixture can keep in the fridge for 24 hours, or can be baked immediately in a 425 degree oven for ten minutes, and then at 350 degrees for another thirty minutes. Be sure to press down the top of the dough when you spoon it onto the sheet so that the tops do not burn. Do so with a finger moistened with water.

Fill with whipped cream, pastry cream, or vanilla pudding. ENJOY!

A, B, or C?!

Posted by jessingh84 on October 21, 2011 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (7)

Hey Guys!

So, shortly after coming back from my trip next week, it will be John's birthday, and I have never met a man who loved crème puffs more than him! In fact, I don't think I've even met a French person who loves crème puffs more than him! So to celebrate his big day, I've decided to take on the challenge of making a croquembouche which translates roughly to “ a crack in the mouth” –a cake made out of out of crème puffs which is held together by caramel and decorated with delicate pieces of spun caramel. I came up with three different designs, and conveniently I'm extremely indecisive. Help me choose, Please!


To process or not to process?

Posted by jessingh84 on October 15, 2011 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

For my upcoming post, I'm planning on making pie dough; however, I haven idea what is the best way of going about this task. Do I stick it in the food processor, grate the butter in, cut with a pastry blade...anyone know which choice gives the best pie dough?  

Simple Fajitas!

Posted by jessingh84 on August 28, 2011 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)
Preparing for a hurricane is hard work: buying flashlights when their all sold out days in advanced, looking for batteries when their out of stock, and settling on candles which your pretty sure you won't be able to light because you won't be able to find a match. All exciting and EXHAUSTING! So what better to fuel up with than fajitas or tortiallas or erm latin inspired meal made from bell peppers, carmelized onions, sweet corn, refried black beans, cheese, and SOUR CREAM! oh! and of course the fajita it self! 
Start off by chopping up some bell peppers (about one red bell pepper, 1/2 green bell pepper) and onions (about 1/2 an onion). be sure to cut the bell peppers in strips and 3/4 the onion into strips as well. The remainder 1/4 should be chopped up finely so that they can cook with the beans. 
Next take can of black beans, and throw it in the blender (i told you this was super simple). 
Just blend them up until their nice and smushed! 
Then throw some olive oil in a smal pot (enough to coat it) and allow to heat up over medium heat. Add chopped onions and allow to cook for a minute, add the beans and stir. Allow to cook on low heat for about five minutes. Be sure to stir! Otherwise the beans will burn. You can also add a feg or two chopped garlic, black pepper, salt, or any other herb conbination to fit your taste. I'm keeping it basic since we didn't have a lot of time after "hurricane prepping." 
Following the beans, heat some oil in a frying pan. (enough oil to coat the pan and over med. heat). When oil is hot put in onion strips to cook. . 
After they cook, but are not brown, add in green and red bell peppers 
Allow them to cook turning them up for about a minute or two. Then add in salt, pepper, garlic powder, and I add in McCormick salt free garlic and herb. You can also add in chopped garlic instead of garlic powder and other available herbs, however due to the hurricane and panicked masses, I didn't get ample amount of time to shop for ingredients. 
After mixing in the spices, herbs, and anything else you'd like to throw in to help bring out the sweet bell pepper taste, cover and allow to cook on low heat for about 5 minutes.
Typically, I love making a corn salsa mix which is super yummy and is the extra little pizazzaz that seemed to be missing today; however due to Irene, we didn't have the necessary ingriedents so i settled for the next best thing: a can of sweet corn heated up in a pot. (well i guess it goes with the spirit of this post: simplicity and taste!) 
To put this all togethor, you can use any sort of fajita you'd like; although i would caution aganist the frozen tortiallas/fajitas and stick with the packaged soft versions found in the bread section. Heat up the fajita...
The last ingredient, which I was almost sure I would have to do withought, yet found some-to my suprise-in the fridge: cheddar cheese. For some odd reason, this version was white! Yes, white. I'm accoustomed to yellow cheddar cheese, but at least it served its purpose! Grate cheddar cheese
To put toethor, drop a dollop of sour cream, if you'd like, spread on some beans, thrown on some peppers, add some corn, and grated cheese. 
By the way...can you figure what treat we had after?