Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Personal Chef to the "Jock Chef"

My buddy, Shayne Graham, and I spent a lot of time together in the days before this taping:

Shayne the Jock Chef

Before you get the wrong idea ~ Shayne really CAN cook.

In fact, he's quite competent in the kitchen. And, not too bad on the eyes either.

But that's neither here nor there.

Shayne called me in late September and said that ESPN The Magazine wanted to shoot a video of him cooking for Jock Chef. He needed to do something "different" from what the other athletes had done ~ dishes they learned from mom like fried chicken and greens, roasted chicken and veggies, or pretty much anything with shrimp.

We decided his menu needed to be upscale, but healthy and flavorful. And it needed to be easy to prep, finishing and putting one course in the oven and naturally flowing into working on the next without it being too complicated to follow on video. And it had to be something he'd naturally cook if he had the time and didn't have moi as his personal chef.

Bison was the answer.

We practiced. And practiced. And practiced. The final menu? Bison Tenderloin rubbed with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper roasted medium rare; Roasted Asparagus; Scalloped Swiss Potatoes; and, a medley of mixed berries with fresh whipped cream.

Was it a success? According to ESPN, "Dude can Cook."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Perfect Christmas Gift for Chef Debbie

Sweet husband, Tim, and I don't buy Christmas gifts for each other.

Let's face it. We have absolutely everything we need ~ our health, fluffy butt Rusty, a house we love, jobs we love, each other.

With all that, we certainly don't need presents!

But. I was given the most amazing Christmas gift.

7:30 p.m. Christmas Eve. Finished cooking for the day. Wine. Cheese. Sweet husband and I are enjoying a snack together. By ourselves.

Then my cell phone rings.


Hi. This is Debbie.
Hi Deb. This is Diane. We just finished dinner and wanted to say THANK YOU! It was amazing. Hold on. Everyone wants to talk to you.
Group yelling in the background
Back to Diane.
Dinner was amazing. The beef wellingtons were perfect. The roasted asparagus was perfect. The shrimp was perfect. The crème brulé was light and fluffy. It was perfect. I didn't want to bother you on Christmas Eve but just HAD to tell you how perfect everything was for dinner.
Internal BIG SIGH of relief.
Diane, you've made my day. This is the nicest present anyone could have given me. Thanks so much!
Sometimes the best present is the simplest present.

Thank you, my friends, for your love and support throughout the year. For putting up with my (occasional) grumpybuttness. For offering to help chop, sauté, grocery shop or anything else when I'm absolutely swamped. For visiting Bacchus with me occasionally.

Merry Christmas. I hope your day was filled with love, good food and great wine.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Roses for Chef Debbie

The holidays are almost over.

Very loud singing chorus of Hallelujah!

Don't get me wrong. It's been a long, hard and profitable year with the last couple of months bringing 7~day work weeks and sometimes 2 clients a day. That can mean 18 hours, or more, at a time on these old legs.

Old being the key word.

Knowing how hard I've been working ~ and trying to not be a grumpybutt (which I've been told can "occasionally" occur when I'm overworked and to my mind under appreciated) ~ sweet husband did something he's never done before in our 20+ years together.

Surprise roses.

For no reason.

At least, I think, for no reason.

Or maybe it's because after he hurt his leg helping me at Thanksgiving, I've tried to not ask him to do so much.

I've tried not to ask him to load and unload the Yummy~mobile, haul and tote everything in and out of every client's home every day or ask him to come load me up "just a few minutes early to help me finish cleaning up."

Just a few minutes cleaning up in Yummy~world that means 2 hours scraping plates, cleaning and reboxing chafing dishes, washing or drying said plates, reloading the crates to reload in Yummy~mobile, yada yada blah de blah)

Thinking about it, the surprise roses were for no reason.

Except that sweet husband really is a sweet husband.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Chef Debbie's "Christmas With The Crazies"

What is it about this time of year that brings out the crazies?

This time last year, I swore I was going to turn my cell phone off this year. But I haven't.


Today's phone call:

Hi, this is Debbie
Hi. I want to buy my boss a gift certificate for Christmas. He's a single guy and I was thinking about a meal or two for him.
I have a small package that would be perfect for him. It's just 3 entrées, 2 servings of each, with the appropriate side dishes and it's just $xxx.
What! For that kind of money, I'd expect 3 or 4 weeks worth of meals! I just want a couple of meals and it shouldn't cost any more than $30 or $40. After all, it's just a couple of meals and I can't believe it would take you that much time.
I appreciate what you're saying. Let me tell you how a personal chef service works so that...
Interrupting me with a big, very audible and prolonged SIGH from her...
OK I get that I have to pay for your time also. I can go as high as $45 but that's as much as I'm going to pay. After all, in today's economy, you can't be that busy.
I'm sorry if I gave you the impression that my price is negotiable. The price for the service I just told you about is $xxx. Perhaps you should consider a gift certificate to...
wanted to say McDonalds, Taco Bell or Burger King but instead...
a nice family style restaurant like Friday's, Chili's or Applebee's.

Geesh! You always sound so nice on the radio. Guess I'll just have to call the station and let them know you aren't very accommodating to their listeners.

Why me?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Yummy~issimo! Thanksgiving with Shayne Graham and The Bengals

In case you haven't noticed, I haven't written in a while. The last couple of months have been so crazy that I didn't want to drag you into the Yummy! frenzy that is my life.

It has been nonstop cooking since I can remember. I got it into my pea brain that this year I was going to bake for Thanksgiving. I hate, hate, hate to bake and typically leave desserts to somebody else. Anybody else. And, as if that wasn't bad enough, I decided I'd make all homemade pastry for said pies. YIKES! I evidently had visited Bacchus a bit too much when I had that crazy idea.

Did I mention that I needed 19 pies for Thanksgiving?

Yep. 19.

After I got through all the client orders for Thanksgiving, I only had half of Wednesday left to prepare for my Thanksgiving dinner at Shayne Graham's beautiful house. I really needed about 3 days!

But I absolutely could not disappoint my Bengal buddies. Imagine feeding a bunch of 6'5" 350 pound men. I didn't think it was possible for any human to eat as much food as they did.

I cooked 2 ~ 24# turkeys, made 8 loaves of homemade cornbread so that I could make 15# of cornbread dressing, 2 different potato dishes, gravy and 11 sides.

And pies. Don't forget the freaking pies!

The first person through the door was my buddy, Frostee Rucker. Limping a little. But with the biggest smile and an even bigger heart, he's one of the nicest people you'll ever want to meet. Except possibly for Jason Shirley. I hadn't had the pleasure of meeting Jason yet until dinner but he's right up there in the "Super Nice Person" category along with Shayne and Frostee.

I got through Thanksgiving with only one minor hiccup. Moving a big stack of heavy, dirty plates wasn't one of my better ideas. Actually it belongs in the same category as making all those pies.

Yep. Dropped the dishes. Broke the dishes. Had a huge mess all over the gorgeous wood floor and cabinets. Food, broken dish shards and silverware for as far as you could see.


But. The pies were awesome. Flaky crust. Fluffy spiced pumpkin with rum. Crunch pecan with bourbon. Peanut butter and banana with no alcohol. More pie flavors than I can remember.

But I sure was glad to get home to visit with Bacchus.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Chef Debbie's Spooky Halloween Treats

So today is Halloween and the weather is going to be glorious tonight for the kids. And the adult kids.

Our Halloween tradition is to sit outside in the cul~de~sac with the neighbors, a roaring fire pit and a few bottles of our favorite libations.

And, no, I'm not cooking for the neighbors. Or making fun candy treats for the kids I know.

Yeah, I know. I'm a bah humbug.

Oops. Wrong holiday.

But this is one of the very few holidays that I don't have a party booked. Or have to cook for anyone but sweet husband.

Not that tonight's dinner will be all that creative. I'm thinking pizza. Or my favorite carryout steak sandwiches smothered in mushroom sauce with lots of chopped onions and gooey melted mozzarella cheese.

Yep. Steak sandwiches it will be.

I found these great spooky food photos on the web and thought they were so creative.

And then there's the Halloween pumpkins after a few too many libations. Cute. For about an hour or so. Then I'd be sick of looking at it and have to clean it up.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Chef Debbie's Halloween Dogs

I'm not big into the whole Halloween thing.

Big surprise for those of you who know me!

I don't have children ~ unless you count sweet husband and the fluffy butt, Rusty.

But. This is wrong.

Funny. But wrong.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Personal Chef Debbie's Final Tomatoes of the Year

Today I HAD to pick tomatoes.

I haven't picked in about 10 days ~ too much to do and too little time to do it in. And, let's face it. We're at the end of the tomato growing season up here in Cincinnati. So I didn't pay too much attention to the plants.

And by "not too much attention" I really mean none. I didn't water. I didn't weed. I didn't even look at the plants.

And I wouldn't have looked at them today either. Until I heard the weather forecast.

We're going to have a light frost tonight.

For those of us who are thermostatically challenged, frost is our friend! I welcome the frost! I embrace the frost! I long for the day we average a high of 45°.

But enough about my hot flashes.

So I decided I'd pick the few final tomatoes of the season.

Did I mention I hadn't picked in about 10 days?

Well. I had tomatoes out the ying yang. Perfectly formed, big juicy, red, ripe tomatoes. In fact, there were 65 of them! 

Yep. 65. 

And today is October 18th. Unbelievable!

So I'll be making a batch of my world~famous spicy tomato sauce. A big batch.

But not for a few days. I still have to finish a website for a client, prep food for a video shoot, change from summer to winter clothes ~ yes, I'm still wearing shorts but we discussed that little temperature problem, as well as take care of my clients this week, talk to a new potential client who wants food 2x a week and conduct a cooking class.

I'll be lucky if I have time to share a glass with Bacchus this week.

Oh wait. There's always time for Bacchus.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Chef Debbie Hits the Jackpot(s)

So sweet husband took me to Las Vegas for a few days for my birthday last month.

I know. You're saying "But spoiled brat didn't you just go on vacation for, like, two weeks to Puerto Vallarta?"

Well, yes, I did. But that was months and months (OK maybe just five months ago) but it seems like a really long time ago and I really needed a birthday vacation.

So many of you've heard my video poker stories over the years and I'm sure even though you know me, you take the stories with a grain of salt.

Gotta tell you, if I heard those stories, I'd wonder too. So I decided to take photos of my jackpots ~ when I remembered.

And there were many times I didn't remember ~ or, rather, when the champagne made me forget.  

These are the jackpots I won during the first two days of my birthday vacation because I got sick and spent four entire days in bed.

But. Thinking about it. Four days doing nothing but sleeping and reading IS a vacation right there.

Lest you think that I spent my entire vacation sleeping, drinking or in front of the video poker machine, I did manage to get to a couple of very good restaurants. Besides our standard stop at Mon Ami Gabi for steak au poivre for sweet husband and filet and a couple of French 75 martinis for me, we ate at a wonderful little restaurant in The Venetian called Tia Toretto.

I typically don't order dessert after dinner but I always look at the dessert menu before anything else ~ well, except maybe not before ordering a glass of wine. But when I saw the dessert tray at Tia Toretto, I had to have dessert. The trouble was deciding which one to have!

All of their desserts are homemade and offered on that evening's tray ~ from the top around clockwise: Apple Cheesecake; Macadamia Tiramisu; Flourless Almond Chocolate Cake; Strawberry and Pistachio Torte; White Chocolate and Orange Layer Cake; Custard Filled Chocolate Covered Longjohn; White Chocolate and Pistachio Torte; Bitter Orange Chocolate Ganache Covered Chocolate Mousse. Yummy!

I had the Apple Cheesecake ~ it sounds boring but it was amazing! Thin slices of apples were painted with a raspberry glaze and then shaped into the rose design all around a creamy apple flavored cheesecake filling. Very simple but oh so good. Along with a glass of 20~year old Port, this restaurant was a Winner!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Chef Debbie Cooks For John Boehner

Ok I get it!

I've created a blog monster and you ~ and you know who you are ladies ~ are upset that I'm not blogging more.

There's plenty to talk about but time is at a premium these days. I'll try to do better...

So. A couple of weeks ago I was the Chef for The Key Event, a black tie charity dinner where guests pay a minimum of $200 each. One of the guests at my home was John Boehner along with his beautiful wife, Debbie.

And his three secret service agents.

And their guns.

And it was John and Debbie's 35th wedding anniversary.

Geesh. Let's just add a little more pressure on the Chef!

For this dinner, sweet husband Tim and super sous chef Steve were with me as well as two servers. In black tie, sweet husband was in charge of pouring wine. Unfortunately he's not handy in the kitchen so his job was to look pretty and schmooz the guests. And he was very good at his job.

Certain menu items are provided to the chef and we are required to use them ~ beef tenderloin, chicken breasts, chocolate. The menu? A masterpiece if I do say so myself.

  • Colossal shrimp marinated in olive oil, red bell peppers, fresh herbs, Dijon mustard, garlic, white wine and garlic
  • Salad ~ baby organic greens with spiced pecans, marinated baby heirloom tomatoes, crumbled blue cheese, caramelized shallots, garnished with an orchid and a choice of dressings: Dilled Ranch or Roasted Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Warm Herbed Parmesan rolls with honey~cinnamon butter
  • Double truffle beef tenderloin ~ beef tenderloin rubbed with truffle salt, roasted medium rare, drizzled with white truffle oil and garnished with shaved black truffles
  • Stuffed chicken breast ~ chicken breast pounded thin and spread with ricotta and Parmesan cheese, fresh spinach, roasted red peppers and fresh basil, rolled and lightly dusted with basil oil and fresh herbed bread crumbs
  • Potato~fennel gratin ~ this is a fabulous recipe that I've modified slightly from Ina Garten
  • Ancho honey glazed pencil thin carrots
  • Roasted asparagus with Parmesan and roasted lemon
  • My version of Death by Chocolate ~ a homemade Chocolate Truffle; Chocolate~Chambord creme bruleé garnished with a dusting a confectioner's sugar and a fresh raspberry; and, a Jumbo Strawberry double~dipped in dark and white chocolate
  • With a hug and a kiss from both John and Debbie Boehner, I think dinner was a success.


    Friday, September 12, 2008

    Personal Chef to The Queen

    Today is The Queen's birthday.

    Latifa? No.

    Of England? No.

    Queen Janeen!

    The Queen of Cincinnati morning radio ~ Janeen Coyle ~ can be found every morning on WGRR 103.5FM beginning at the ungodly hour of 5:00 ~ yes, that is in the a.m. ~ with husband, funny man and radio sidekick, Chris O'Brien.

    So I got up earlier than normal this morning to make The Queen a 3~layer Chocolate Raspberry birthday cake. I'm not a pastry chef. Far from it. Baking requires a cooking skill that I don't possess ~ measuring.

    I hate to measure when I cook. I'm more of a dump cook. What is a dump cook? I dump it in and cook it!

    So said cake with double chocolate fudge icing tilted slightly to the side. But with the tiara on top and the sparkler candles, it was hardly noticeable.

    So happy birthday my dear friend. I wish you nothing but happiness, sunshine and good wine this weekend.

    Oh. And lots of chocolate.

    Monday, September 1, 2008

    Chef Debbie's Recipe for Roquefort Tomato Ambrosia

    I picked tomatoes today.

    Actually, I pick tomatoes every day. Most days the count is 8~10 tomatoes. Today's Yummy! tomato haul was 20 perfectly formed, round, red and juicy Beefsteak tomatoes!

    I've looked around at my neighbor's tomato plants and one neighbor had such a poor crop this year that they've already pulled the plants from the ground. The other neighbors behind me have decent sized plants with the tallest one topping out at about 4'.

    Not bad by most standards.

    Then there are the Tomato Queen's tomatoes.

    Standing a full 6' tall, the plants are so loaded with Beefsteak tomatoes, that I have to pick every day. And, the critters haven't been eating them.

    My critterless secret? Cayenne pepper all around the plants. The ground squirrels, rabbits and raccoons won't cross the pepper line.

    Am I bragging? You betcha! I don't have a lot to brag about in my yard but my flowers and tomatoes will win awards every time.

    What to do with all of these delicious red gems? Here's a recipe for a client favorite summer~on~the~back~deck dinner.

    Caramelized Onion, Tomato and Roquefort Tart
    Serves 8

    1 pound tomatoes, ripe, thinly sliced
    2T butter
    2c yellow onions, thinly sliced
    1/4c dry white wine
    1t thyme, dried
    salt and pepper
    1/3c pine nuts, toasted
    1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
    4oz Roquefort cheese, crumbled

    Preheat oven to 400. Spray a tart pan with non~stick cooking spray.

    Place sliced tomatoes in one layer on baking sheet sprayed with non~stick cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme. Bake 3 minutes. Turn tomatoes over and bake an additional 3 minutes. Remove from pan and allow juices to drain on paper towels.

    In heavy skillet, melt butter over medium~high heat. Add onions and sauté until caramelized, 12~15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add wine and cook until dry, 3~5 minutes. Remove from heat, add pine nuts, salt and pepper to taste and stir well. Set aside to cool.

    On a lightly floured cutting board, roll out puff pastry until large enough to fit into tart pan with sides overlapping.

    Spread onion mixture evenly over bottom of puff pastry. Top with sliced tomatoes, overlapping to make one tight layer. Top with crumbled Roquefort cheese. Crimp edges of puff pastry.

    Bake until golden and puffed, about 20~25 minutes. Cover pastry edges with foil if it begins to get too brown.

    Remove from oven and cut into wedges. Serve warm or room temperature with a glass of Pinot Grigio and a small spinach salad on the side.


    Friday, August 15, 2008

    Julia Child is the Reason I'm a Personal Chef

    Today is Julia Child's birthday. 

    She would have been 96. 

    Born August 15, 1912 Julia started her storied career as "The French Chef" in 1963. Her cookbook bible "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" (1961), a 734~page door stop was originally rejected from the publisher Houghton Mifflin as "being too much like an encyclopedia." My copy is dog~eared and has a broken spine but I wouldn't trade it for the world.  

    I remember watching the later years of "The French Chef" and later, "Julia Child & Company" (1978-1979). Truth be told, I didn't understand much of what she was saying and doing ~ I just know that I liked watching her combine everyday ingredients turning out beautiful masterpieces. Or, tell us when it didn't quite turn out right. 

    Regardless, the most important thing she taught me is that no matter how good you are in the kitchen, sometimes things don't go according to plan. Cakes don't rise, omelets fall apart, you forget an ingredient.  

    Believe me, if there's a mistake to be made in the kitchen, I've made it.  

    So thank you Julia Child. For your amazing recipes, your selflessness and most of all your humor.  

    Here's one of my favorite recipes from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."

    As Julia would say ~ Bon Appétit!

    Chicken Broiled With Mustard, Herbs and Breadcrumbs
    Serves 8

    2 ~ 2 1/2 pound broiler~fryer chickens, quartered
    1/3c butter
    2T olive oil
    1/3c Dijon mustard
    3T shallots, finely minced
    1/2t dried thyme, basil or tarragon
    1/8t black pepper, freshly ground
    1 pinch cayenne pepper
    4c breadcrumbs, fresh ~ do not use packaged crumbs

    Preheat broiler.

    Rinse chicken under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Melt butter and olive oil together and baste chicken with the mixture.

    Place chicken, skin side down, in bottom of a broiling pan, rack removed. Place pan in oven so that chicken is 5~6" away from the heat.

    Broil 10 minutes per side, basting every 5 minutes. Chicken should be very lightly browned. Sprinkle with salt.

    Blend Dijon mustard with shallots, herbs, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Drop by drop, beat in 1/2 of the basting fat from the broiler pan whisking constantly until emulsified into a mayonnaise~like cream. Brush the mustard mixture onto the chicken pieces.

    Pour breadcrumbs onto a large plate, roll mustard~coated chicken in crumbs and arrange chicken, skin side down, on the broiling rack. Dribble half of the remaining basting fat over chicken pieces.

    Brown under broiler, about 10 minutes. Turn the chicken, baste with remaining fat, and cook another 10 minutes, or until juices run clear.

    Monday, August 4, 2008

    OK Foodie Friends ~ I'm Looking For a Recipe

    To all my foodie friends: I've been searching for a recipe for over four decades.

    I'm looking for a Cole Slaw recipe. Not just any cole slaw. And not with mayo or (yuck) Miracle Whip.

    No. No. No.

    This is a vinegar based cole slaw. The kind that makes your taste buds explode.

    Let me back up and explain. My parents didn't take us out to eat very much when we were growing up. As in, almost never. But, when we did go out, we went to this fabulous chicken joint ~ in hindsight, it was a dive bar ~ that had THE BEST fried chicken and a spicy vinegar based cole slaw. I'd get a double order of slaw and forget the fries. Then I'd eat everyone else's slaw at the table.

    I really loved that cole slaw.

    I've tried to make it but can't get the proportions right.

    So. I'm looking for a recipe that is cabbage based with a dressing of vinegar, white wine, sugar, garlic, red onion (or shallot) and that special something that I just haven't figured out yet.

    Please don't keep me in suspense. I'm sure one of my genius foodie friends knows that that special something is.

    Wonder if that is where my love of Bacchus started...

    Thursday, July 31, 2008

    Stick A Fork In Chef Debbie ~ She's Done!

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 31. Stick a fork in me ~ I'm done!.

    Today is the last day of my commitment to write a blog a day for a month. I had no idea how difficult this task was going to be.

    But. I've heard from lots of people I haven't spoken to in a long time, have gotten quite a few e~mails about the recipes and have been contracted to design two blogs for clients.

    This process has forced me to get my writing chops back in working condition. And, to think outside the mixing bowl when searching for topics.

    So thank you for reading this blog for the last 31 days. But now I'm off for a long weekend in Canada with sweet husband and it's back to a blog every 7~10 days.

    Wednesday, July 30, 2008

    Personal Chef Asks: Waiter Is That A Fly in My Soup?

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 30. Only 1 more day to go.

    By now, everyone has learned the identity of the infamous mystery author of the frightening and disgusting blog Waiter Rant, Steve Dublanica.  A New York Post article discloses his identity as well as revealing a couple of the "lessons" he's subjected his past customers to.

    And, surprise of surprises, he's written a book about his experiences as a waiter!

    Have you ever read the blog? It's full of the "lessons" waiters teach customers who send food back, are rude, don't look like they'll tip well or whatever.

    Of course, it's never the waiter's fault when I had to ask three times over the course of 20 minutes for the same glass of wine that was never delivered but charged on my bill three times.

    And, of course, it's never the waiter's fault when I order a medium~rare steak with asparagus risotto and I'm served a chicken with fried potatoes. And, yes, the waiter did deliver the food.

    Or, I love this one. It's never the waiter's fault that I had the huge misfortune to walk into that restaurant on that night when the waiter is in a foul mood, has cigarette breath, dirty fingernails, is wearing half a bottle of the cheapest drugstore cologne/perfume and I ask for a different table outside of their service area.

    I know the work is hard. And the customers can be rude. And you don't make a lot of money. And you occasionally get stiffed on your tip.

    But. DO NOT take it out on me before I even sit down and you've already determined that I'm a lousy tipper because as Waiter Dublancia boasts "It's gotten to the point where I can tell how much money I'm going to make off a customer within 10 seconds of meeting them." Even though he then claims, one paragraph later, "I try not to fall into that (profiling diners based on age, sex and race) trap."


    Perhaps the reason you didn't get the tip you "expect" could be because you've treated me like crap, have served me the wrong dinner, have admitted to leaving your personal body fluids all over a customer's food or any multitude of other lovely disease~ridden pranks that you've pulled over the years.

    And my friends wonder why I don't like to go out to dinner!

    But if I do go out to dinner and receive impeccable, attentive service from a waiter that is knowledgeable about the menu and preparation techniques and has some semblance of personality, then you'll be extremely happy with the tip you earned.

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008

    Revisited: Chef Debbie's Food Giggles For The Day

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 26. Only 5 more days to go.

    This adorable classic cartoon appeared in Gourmet Magazine in June 1941 and re~appeared on their website this month. It also is a perfect accompaniment to this Yummy~issimo! blog originally dated July 26 2008.

    You can count on me saying something stupid almost every day. Truthfully, it is every day. But that's neither here nor there.

    Here are a few of the (printable) misquotes that my buddy, Jeff Gibbs, of Gibb's Cheese (a lovely cheese and deli shop) at Findlay Market has heard recently.

  • Which one of the turkeys has more turkey in it?
  • I want a refund on my pork chops!
  • Why would I pay $3.00 for 1/2 pound when I can buy a whole pound for $5.99?
  • Can I have 1/2 pound of caucasian turkey?
  • Which of these cottage cheeses is made without diary products?
  • Give me 5 garlic franks to dip in my peanut butter.
  • Does white cheese have less calories than yellow cheese?
  • OK. I don't feel so dumb now.

    Yummy~issimo! Recipe for Grilled Lemon Chicken

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 29. Only 2 more days to go.

    In most families, the man is the master of the grill. But in our family unit, sweet husband doesn't cook on the grill any more than he cooks in the kitchen.

    Which means never.

    No problem. I have a big 5~burner stainless steel grill with all of the gadgets. And, best of all, we have a covered back deck which means I can cook outside when it's raining or snowing.

    Yes, I've been known to grill outside when it's 20 below. Or when we have a blizzard and the power's out for 3 days.

    Nope. We'll never go hungry.

    I grill out a lot and it seems that as soon as the big slab of red meat is just starting to get those Yummy! grill marks and the air is starting of fill with the delicious fragrance of a perfectly grilled garlic~rubbed filet, I run out of propane and sweet husband has to change the tank.

    So tonight is a grill out night and here's one of my favorite, super~simple recipes.

    Grilled Lemon Chicken
    Makes 6 servings

    3 large chicken breasts
    1/4c olive oil
    1/4c lemon juice, fresh squeezed
    1 lemon, zested
    2T basil, fresh, chopped
    1t black pepper, freshly ground

    Have your butcher filet the breasts into 6 pieces. Mix all ingredients, except chicken, in small bowl. Place chicken and marinade in large zip~lock bag. Seal and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

    Preheat grill and spray racks with non~stick cooking spray. Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade. Grill chicken, turning only once, until done.

    Serve with a cucumber and tomato salad, herbed Israeli couscous with sugar snap peas and a glass of your favorite Pinot Grigio.

    Just gotta make sure the propane tank isn't empty before I start the grill.

    Monday, July 28, 2008

    Forget the Mayo: Recipe for Homemade Ranch Dressing

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 28. Only 3 more days to go.

    Yesterday sweet husband Tim went out to the ATP Tennis Tournament with Ryan (of Kristy and Ryan fame). I love when he's gone and I can have exactly what I want for lunch or dinner.

    Don't get me wrong. I love when he's home but if he's out of town and I want spaghetti 4 nights in a row, I'll have spaghetti 4 nights in a row.

    So yesterday I was craving a Tuna Stuffed Tomato. And, although I don't get it, sweet husband is "just OK" about fresh tomatoes.

    Goodie! More for me!

    My favorite way of having tuna salad is tuna mixed with homemade Ranch dressing (forget about using mayonnaise or {GASP} Miracle Whip), fresh dill, lots of finely diced green onion, sliced green olives and capers.

    Heaven on a piece of bread. Or, in this case, stuffed inside a big, juicy red tomato.

    And, of course, it must be served on a pretty plate with fresh flowers and garnished with dried dill and organic dried flower petals.  A glass of chilled, crisp Chardonnay wouldn't be bad either!

    Homemade Ranch Dressing
    Makes 1 1/2 cups

    1c mayonnaise
    1/2c sour cream
    1T dill, fresh, chopped
    1 garlic clove, finely minced
    2T lime juice, fresh
    1/4c buttermilk
    1T parsley, fresh, chopped
    1T red bell pepper, finely minced
    1T chives, chopped

    Whisk all ingredients until well blended. Taste and adjust seasonings. Cover and chill at least 8 hours for flavors to blend.

    Keeps well, refrigerated and covered, for 2 weeks.

    Sunday, July 27, 2008

    Chef Debbie's Favorite Blueberry Muffins

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 27. Only 4 more days to go.

    I love blueberries. Big, plump and full of flavor, these little gems are stuffed full of antioxidants so they're really good for you.

    I don't eat a lot of desserts and sweets, but every once in a while I get the craving for blueberry muffins. Not just any muffins, but the double~stuffed blueberry muffins from Ina Garten. Unfortunately, I don't have which of her fabulous cookbooks I got this from. Here's my modified recipe, which is a client favorite.

    Double Blueberry Muffins
    Makes 12

    1/2c butter, room temperature
    1c sugar
    2 eggs
    2t vanilla extract
    2t baking powder
    1/4t salt
    3T lemon zest
    2 1/2c blueberries, fresh
    2c all~purpose flour
    1/2c milk
    2T Demerara sugar, for garnish

    Preheat oven to 375. Line muffin tin with paper liners.

    In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth. Add sugar and mix well. Add eggs, vanilla, baking powder, lemon zest and salt and mix well.

    In a shallow bowl, mash 3/4c blueberries with the back of a fork. Add to batter and mix.

    With the mixer running at low speed, add 1/2 of the flour, then 1/2 of the milk and mix. Repeat with remaining flour and milk. Fold in the remaining whole blueberries by hand and mix well.

    Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Sprinkle Demerara sugar over the tops of the muffins. Bake until golden brown, 25~30 minutes. Let cool in the pan at least 30 minutes before removing from muffin tin ~ this step is very important so that the blueberries don't sink to the bottom of the muffins.


    Saturday, July 26, 2008

    Chef Debbie's Food Giggles For The Day

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 26. Only 5 more days to go.

    You can count on me saying something stupid almost every day. Truthfully, it is every day. But that's neither here nor there.

    Here are a few of the (printable) misquotes that my buddy, Jeff Gibbs, of Gibb's Cheese (a lovely cheese and deli shop) at Findlay Market has heard recently.

  • Which one of the turkeys has more turkey in it?
  • I want a refund on my pork chops!
  • Why would I pay $3.00 for 1/2 pound when I can buy a whole pound for $5.99?
  • Can I have 1/2 pound of caucasian turkey?
  • Which of these cottage cheeses is made without diary products?
  • Give me 5 garlic franks to dip in my peanut butter.
  • Does white cheese have less calories than yellow cheese?
  • OK. I don't feel so dumb now.

    Friday, July 25, 2008

    Chef Debbie Designs Logos, Websites and Blogs

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 25. Only 6 more days to go.

    In today's Internet centered world, it's still amazing to me that small business owners haven't developed a web presence.

    As many of you know, I have a background in marketing and graphic design. When I started Yummy~issimo! three years ago, I was worried that I wouldn't have outlets for my creative energy.

    But. New businesses open, move or are ready to upgrade their marketing brand. With my creative background combined with my current culinary focus, moving into a food marketing and design phase seemed like a natural move.

    This is a 4~color, two~sided business card I designed for my personal chef friend, Chef Debbie Burgess, of The Hungry Fox PCS in South Carolina. She is a Personal Chef as well as a Wine Advisor. Boy, does she know her wines! I love to visit with Bacchus ~ so going out to dinner with her and her darling husband, Bob, is always a great experience. In addition to the amazing company and delectable food, it's always an adventure to try the new wines she picks. And, they're always awesome!

    My good friend and best butcher in town, Luigi Berardo of Luigi's Olde World Market didn't have a web presence at all. Marketing Chef Debbie to the rescue. First thing I've done ~ and I haven't even shown them yet ~ is to design the logo which will flow into everything else they're going to have: website, blog, business cards, new signage. Here is the 4~color, 2~sided business card I designed for them ~ one side is for Luigi and one side is for Adam. I've also designed a new blog for the business and am in the process of developing a website for them.

    Another blog I designed this week is for the Master Spice Mixer, De Stewart, of Herbs & Spice at Findlay Market.

    Ah. The creative juices are flowing again and they taste good.

    Thursday, July 24, 2008

    OSU Students Read About Chef Debbie

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 24. Only 7 more days to go.

    With the Internet, you just never know where you name is going to show up.

    I have Google alerts coming to my inbox every day so if any article or blog discusses Chef Debbie, Yummy~issimo! (all versions and misspellings), Personal Chef or Debbie Spangler, then I get an e~mail alert with a link to the article.

    Imagine my surprise when last week's Cincinnati Enquirer article about saving money at the grocery store was mentioned in the U Weekly, the OSU Student Paper.

    Reporter, Sarah Ledford, took some liberties and "quoted" me as saying "Students are also encouraged to avoid pre-packaged foods." Spangler said that purchasing foods and vegetables in their raw form will allow for longer lasting products for less money. “You can save $1.29 or more when you take the time to clean your own lettuce. A head of lettuce lasts much longer than the packaged lettuce.”

    Huh. I reread the Enquirer article and I'm pretty sure it doesn't mention anything like that ~ and I haven't spoken with Ms. Ledford.

    So. I don't know if fresh fruits and vegetables in their raw form will last longer than their counterparts that are pre~packaged. I do know, however, you can save $$$ with fresh versus prepackaged.

    I never have a problem saying what I think, however, don't put words in my mouth that I didn't say and certainly can't back up.

    Wednesday, July 23, 2008

    Chef Debbie To Be Aunt Debbie

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 23. Only 8 more days to go.

    I've got to learn how to make homemade baby food.

    No, not for me ~ thank Bacchus! Although, I suppose Bacchus is what got her into this situation...

    Anyways, it is my duty as Chef Aunt Debbie to give mommy a little break, give baby a healthy choice of fruits and veggies and to give daddy ~ what?

    What to give daddy?

    I know! When the little one is ready to pop out, I'll fill the freezer with a month's worth of dinners. That way, he can devote his time to diaper duty.

    So to my friends who are reading this and want to know who's pregnant. Guess you'll just have to wait and see who gains a lot of weight in the next few months. Back to the photo at the beginning of this blog ~ she tells me this is the baby photo.  I'll have to take her word for it.

    If you're interested, here are some websites I've found that have recipes for homemade baby foods.

    Wholesome Baby Foods

    Homemade Baby Food Recipes

    Garden and Hearth Baby Food Recipes

    Andres' Homemade Baby Food Recipes

    Recipe Goldmine: Baby Food Recipes

    The Vegetarian Resource Group Recipes

    This will be a whole new tasting experience for me.

    Tuesday, July 22, 2008

    There Are No Tears In The (Personal Chef's) Kitchen!!!

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 22. Only 9 more days to go.

    Have you been watching this season's Next Food Network Star on the Food Network? The contestants are so weak, I'm amazed the judges ~ two executives from the FN, Bobby Flay and a rotating celebrity chef judge ~ haven't sent all of them home and began again.

    The show this last Sunday is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. The final three contestants ~ Lisa, Adam and Aaron ~ were in Las Vegas. The first challenge was to memorize a couple of lines and be able to walk and talk at the same time. Evidently it's pretty tough to do.

    Now, I sometimes have trouble doing 7~8 things at once but that's only after I've visited with Bacchus for a while. As Personal Chefs, we have to multitask. We can have three burners going at once, two different items in the oven and still have enough brain power and dexterity to roll out pastry dough.

    As my chef friend, Debbie, said the other day "I'm breaking my arm patting myself on the back!"

    So it's been with great interest that I've been following the thread on my Personal Chef's message board and realized I'm not quite a bitchy as I thought.

    Well, maybe I am. But that's a different blog entirely!

    I may say it under my breath (sometimes Bacchus makes it louder) but putting it in writing is not my style. That can come back to bite you. And I do enough stupid stuff that I don't need to actually write it down!

    Here are some of my favorite comments:

  • Is it just me or is everyone on the show a no talent hack? I'd send them all home. None of them is competent in the kitchen or in front of the camera. Either the field of contestants was very thin, they had terrible judgment in the selection process, or they looked much better in the interview process. And could they POSSIBLY cry more? Geez! There's no crying in kitchens!

  • Even the men cry! I think it must be a pre-req during auditions.

  • And they brought them all back. Must be because they couldn't send them all home. "You all stink equally so I guess we have to bring you all back...".

  • I thought the same thing, trying to figure out who I would vote off. I wouldn't watch any of them. Of course I wouldn't watch that whacked-out-french-inspired-mom that won last season either.

  • And two of my favorite quotes:

  • My husband says he can't look at Lisa without thinking of Vulcans.

  • "Name blocked to protect the innocent" thinks of Japanese cartoon characters ala Speed Racer or Pokemon when she sees Lisa.

  • And the winner is:

  • I think a Vulcan mated with Sandra Bullock.
  • Wow! Talk about bitchy. True, but bitchy ~ and I love it!

    I'm looking forward to this Sunday's "finale" when somebody is crowned and given the golden whisk. Imagine the tears!

    Monday, July 21, 2008

    Chef Debbie's Favorite Pork Tenderloin Recipe

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 21. Only 10 more days to go.

    This adorable classic cartoon appeared in Gourmet Magazine in December 1949 and re~appeared on their website this month.

    One of my favorite client appetizer recipes for pork tenderloin can also be served for dinner. Serve with fresh fruit salad, your favorite fresh vegetable and a nice glass of crisp Pinot Grigio.

    Port Marinated Pork Tenderloin
    Serves 4

    1/2c soy sauce
    1/2c honey
    1/2c Port wine
    4 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
    2" fresh ginger, peeled, minced
    4 green onions, thinly sliced
    2T Dijon mustard
    1T mustard seeds
    1 pound pork tenderloin, whole, trimmed
    Garnishes: fresh diced pineapple, mango~jalapeno salsa, fresh chives, or your favorite honey mustard

    Place all ingredients except tenderloin in large bowl and mix well making sure that honey is mixed in well. Place marinade and pork tenderloin in large zip~lock bag and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

    When ready to cook, strain marinade into large saucepan and bring to a boil. This sauce will increase in volume with heat so keep an eye on the pot so that it does not boil over. Reduce heat and gently boil until reduced by at least one half.

    Spray grill grates with non~stick cooking spray and preheat grill to medium~high heat. Reduce heat to medium and grill tenderloin about 20 minutes or until medium.

    If serving as an appetizer, let stand at least 20 minutes to cool. Place tenderloin and reduced marinade in zip~lock bag and refrigerate until cold (the tenderloin is easier to thinly slice when it's chilled). When chilled, slice into paper~thin slices, serve with reduced marinade on the side and garnish with fresh pineapple, mango~jalapeno salsa, fresh chives and~or honey mustard. This appetizer can be served warm, cold or room temperature.

    If serving for dinner, have the butcher trim the pork tenderloin and slice into medallions, marinate and grill as directed. Remove from grill and let rest 5~10 minutes before serving.

    Sunday, July 20, 2008

    Chef Debbie Goes to a Party

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 20. Only 11 more days to go.

    Last night there was a birthday party for my dear friend, De Stewart of Herbs & Spice, thrown by his lovely and adorable wife, Susan.

    Last year I was invited to cater the event and this year I was lucky enough to be invited as a guest. I had no idea how much fun a party is when I don't have to work so hard!

    The food was amazing and the company sparkling. And the wine wasn't bad either...

    Many of you know I have a background in marketing and graphic design so when De asked me to design a blog for him, I jumped at the chance. Be sure to check out his blog when it's fully up and running. They'll be coupons, announcements about tastings and special events, recipes and tons of other good information.

    So to De and Susan ~ thank you so much for inviting sweet husband Tim and me to your party. We are privileged to be a part of your lives and we are fortunate to call you our friends.

    Happy Birthday De!

    Saturday, July 19, 2008

    Personal Chef Would Rather Eat at Home

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 19. Only 12 more days to go.

    Sweet husband Tim and I went out last night. Now most people probably go out for dinner once in a while. Not us. Sweet husband offers to take me out to dinner almost every night.

    But I almost always say no for a myriad of reasons ~ it's too expensive, the wine is marked up at least three times retail, it's not as good as I can normally make, on and on and on.

    So I agreed to out "for happy hour" with our friends Tom and Vicki. I should mention though, that happy hour can sometimes turn into happy hours when the four of us are together. We went to In Cahoots in downtown Blue Ash. They have a great happy hour with a nice sized glass of wine at only $3.95/glass and they pour a very decent drink.

    Dinner, however, was hit and miss. We've never had a problem before. Every item we've ordered ~ from angus burgers to beef stroganoff to curry chicken salad to smothered chicken ~ has been cooked and seasoned properly and plated beautifully. It always happens. You take somebody to a restaurant they haven't been to before, tell them it's good, and they end up having a less than stellar meal.

    Sweet husband had a smoked top sirloin steak which was very good. Vicki had salmon. Again very good. Tom and I, on the other hand, ordered the "house favorite trout." Ugh! It was just plain broiled trout. No seasonings. No sauce. Overcooked, dry and flavorless.

    Now I'm not shy but apparently Tom is. Two bites into the fish and I called our server, Stephanie, over. Absolutely no problem to switch the trout for the smoked steak. Tom muddled through his trout while I happily gnawed on smoked red meat.

    And the best part? For the inconvenience, they bought me another glass of wine. Cant' beat that!

    Friday, July 18, 2008

    Personal Chef is The Tomato Queen

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 18. Only 13 more days to go.

    Have I ever talked about my tomatoes?

    Every year, I swear I'm not going to grow tomatoes again. It's too much work. I don't have time to water. I can get great tomatoes from the farmer's market. Yada, yada, yada.

    And, yet, every year I eagerly await May 1 so I can scour the nursery for the exact plants I want. I'm very particular (I bet you didn't know that about me!!) about my tomato plants.

    They must be Beefsteak plants. The plants must be a least 8" tall. They must be organic. On and on and on. For the first few years, the folks at the nursery would run and hide every time I came in. It must have been my sparkling personality....

    For the last few years, whenever I walk into the nursery they go into the back and pull out a full flat of Beefsteak tomato plants for me to look through, pick over and ask about. Guess they remembered me from year to year.

    Last year I planted the tomatoes in my front yard. Yeah, I know that sounds strange. And it is. But with the number of trees around us it was the best place for them. And my tomato plants were the talk of the neighborhood. They were over 7' tall! Taller than sweet husband Tim. They looked like trees. Needless to say it was a great Beefsteak tomato year. And it was a mild fall and I had fresh tomatoes well into the middle of November.

    So, again this year I got the tomato bug in April. We had a really cold spring and my plants didn't go in until Memorial Day weekend. And this year I moved the plants into the back yard. I'd had a lot of trees cut down in the back so there is full sun from noon until the sun sets.

    And I'm pleased to brag that my tomato plants have gone absolutely nuts this year. Even in new soil that hasn't been composted and mulched for several years ~ and with a very cold, wet spring ~ and with my not taking very good care of them. Right now, the plants are as tall as me and they are LOADED with tomatoes with some already larger than my fist.

    I'll ask now. Send tomato recipes. Lots and lots of recipes.

    Every year I freeze tomatoes, I make gallons of spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce and ketchup. But you can never have too many tomato recipes.

    Thursday, July 17, 2008

    A (Crappy) Day in the Life of a Personal Chef

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 17. Only 14 more days to go.

    Yesterday was not a good day. After dealing with clients who think that I might purchase some of their menu items from flea markets (see Blog dated 07/16/08), I was feeling pretty low.

    Then the Yummy~mobile died.

    I had an appointment downtown and drove back up to my end of Yummy~world. I stopped at one of my favorite butcher shops, Luigi's Olde World Market, and went in to get something to throw on the grill. I decided it was a good night to visit Bacchus and gnaw on a big hunk of red meat.

    Got into the Yummy~mobile, ready to go home and visit with Bacchus on the back deck, read my book and occasionally talk to the hummingbirds before I had to start the grill and get on with dinner.

    Well, the Y~mobile had other ideas.

    As in it didn't want to go anywhere.

    So I had to carry the steaks back in and ask them to keep them in the case until I kicked the truck back into working order.

    The kicking didn't work. Go figure.

    Sweet husband Tim was the first call. Yeah, I know. It should have been AAA. But it wasn't. It was sweet husband. And he came right away to help me ~ sad damsel that I was.

    Yep. Feeling pretty sorry for myself about now.

    My wonderful friends at Luigi's all came out to see if they could help. Nope ~ not the battery (it's brand new). Nope ~ not the electrical system. Nope ~ not the spark plugs. Nope. Nope. Nope. You name it, that wasn't the problem.

    Sweet husband arrives to the rescue. Turns out, it's probably the fuel pump. Since everything else has been replaced in the last year or so, the fuel pump is the only thing that's left that's not brand new. Damn. That sounds expensive!

    Today has to be better. No. Let me rephrase that. Today WILL be better!

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    Personal Chef, Debbie Spangler, In The News Again!

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 16. Only 15 more days to go.

    Half way through my month of blogs. Wow this has been difficult!

    Did you read the Enquirer this morning? Life & Food Section? Did you see me smiling out at you above the fold?

    A couple of months ago, Polly Campbell called and asked if I had some tips for saving $$$ at the grocery store. You betcha! I never say no to Polly.

    The concept of the article was to give the average Jane Shopper tips to stretch her food budget money.

    So the article Savvy Shoppers Do Save finally appeared with a 4~color smiling moi top right corner of the article. My photo isn't in the online link, but you all know what I look like. It's not like I'm subtle or shy about promoting myself.

    The line "Debbie Spangler, a personal chef who shops every day, sometimes bargains for her food ~ at flea markets" is in the first paragraph and implies that I purchase a lot of my client food at flea markets.

    Let me clarify this a little. While I do occasionally shop at flea markets for bulk produce, I don't make a habit of it like the article makes it sound. I do, however, shop at flea markets when strawberries, tomatoes or corn are in full season and I can bargain and buy tons of bulk produce.

    For sweet husband Tim and me. Never for clients.

    Some of the other tips that were overshadowed by the flea market idea:

  • Avoid prepackaged fresh foods. For instance, fresh lettuce is less than a dollar a head. Washed and torn lettuce in the bag is $2.99 (or more) for 10 oz.
  • Do look at frozen veggies in place of fresh. Broccoli this week is $1.99/pound for crowns. A bag of frozen broccoli is $1.19/pound. If you're using broccoli in something like a stir~fry or any cooked casserole, frozen will work just fine and you won't lose any nutritional value or taste.
  • Look for alternative vendors. I shop at Findlay Market for lots of items that I could get at the grocery store. For instance, a pound of sharp cheddar cheese at Gibb's Cheese is $5.99 so I'll buy what I need and shred it myself. Depending upon the type of cheese, you can save $2.00 or more a pound by shredding cheese yourself.
  • Rethink your cuts of meat. Instead of buying boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $5.99/pound buy a whole young fryer and cut it up yourself. Watch the sales and you can save $3.69/pound.
  • Don't buy bulk unless you need a large quantity. Why buy an entire bottle of whole nutmeg for $7.99 when you can purchase just one piece of whole nutmeg for .59/each at Herbs & Spice at Findlay Market. It could take the average cook years to use an entire jar of whole nutmeg.
  • You can save grocery money. Shop smart. Look for sales. Don't purchase more than you have to.

    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    Other Things To Do With Food Besides Eat It

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 15. Only 16 more days to go.

    I've gotten several e~mails in the last few weeks with tips and tricks of things you can do with food other than eat it. Some of these I've tried, some I haven't and some sound so weird I wonder who in the world came up with them!

    Tips I've tried and they've worked:

  • Peel a banana from the bottom and you won't have to pick the hair off of it.

  • Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store and they won't ripen as fast as if they stay in a bunch.

  • To keep squirrels and rabbits from eating your plants, sprinkle the plants and the ground around them with cayenne pepper. It won't hurt the plant or the animal.

  • Before you pour a sticky substance in a measuring cup, fill the measuring cup with hot water. Dump out the water but don't dry the measuring cup. The sticky ingredient comes right out.

  • Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it but can't digest it so it kills them. Repeat if it rains before all of the ants are gone.

  • And my favorite tip: To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass and fill it with 1/2c apple cider vinegar and 2 drops of dishwashing liquid. Mix well. The fruit flies will be drawn to the cup and not your fruit.
  • Tips I haven't tried but sound like they'll work well:

  • Swish a shot of vodka over an aching tooth. Allow your gums to absorb some of the alcohol to numb the pain. (Swallow vodka. Depending upon your pain, repeat as necessary.)

  • Heat leftover pizza in a non~stick skillet on top of the stove and heat on medium~low until warmed through. This keeps the crust crispy.

  • To make mess~free deviled eggs, place egg yolks in zip~lock bag, seal and mash well. Add remaining ingredients, reseal and keep mashing until thoroughly mixed. Cut the bottom corner off the bag and squeeze into egg whites.
  • And, how do they come up with this stuff?

  • Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating. Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking. Huh?

  • Leftover Snickers bars... OK stop right here. Who has leftover Snickers bars?

  • To make scrambled eggs or omelets really rich, add a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream and heavy cream before beating. Then call 911 for the heart attack that's sure to happen.

  • And my favorite "Are You Freaking Nuts" Tip: To cure foot odor, wash your feet with vodka.

  • Monday, July 14, 2008

    A Recipe for Steak au Poivre on Bastille Day

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 14. Only 17 more days to go.

    Today is Bastille Day ~ a national holiday in France commemorating the storming of the Bastille, which took place on July 14, 1789 and marked the beginning of the French Revolution. Yawn.

    I had to take a French lit class at Miami and most of it centered around the French Revolution, the writings of Balzac and a bunch of stuff I can't remember. Now the "yawn" is due to the fact that this was an early morning class. As in 8:00 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That in and of itself wouldn't be too bad, but add in the drive from Blue Ash to Oxford every day and I yawned my way through a lot of those classes that semester.

    One thing you won't yawn about is one of sweet husband Tim's favorite meals ~ Steak au Poivre (Filets with Port Peppercorn Sauce).

    Steak au Poivre
    Modified from
    Serves 2

    1 1/2T mixed peppercorns ~ black, red, pink, white, green
    2t green peppercorns, in brine, drined
    2 ~ 6oz beef tenderloin filets
    2t vegetable oil
    2c ruby Port wine
    1/2c shallots, minced
    3T ginger, finely minced
    3T butter

    Finely chop all peppercorns in food processor. Rub peppercorn mixture over both sides of each steak.

    Heat oil in heavy medium skillet over high heat. Season steaks with salt. Add to skillet and cook to desired doneness ~ about 2 minutes per side for medium~rare. Transfer steaks to plate and tent with foil.

    Add Port, shallots and ginger to skillet and boil until liquid is reduced to a thin syrup, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Strain into bowl. Return sauce to skillet and boil until thick syrup forms, about 2 minutes. Whisk in butter and season with salt. Spoon sauce around steaks and enjoy with a glass of your favorite red wine.

    Sunday, July 13, 2008

    Sake Bombs for Dessert

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 13. Only 18 more days to go.

    Last night we went out with two of my favorite people ~ Kristy and Ryan. Now it's a good thing we planned this several weeks ago, because after the week I had I would have cancelled and spent the night in my comfy chair watching the flat screen.

    So we went out for sushi at Soho. We had two large platters of sushi, salads, veggie tempura and soup. Oh. And drinks. Lots and lots of green tea martinis, red wine and, of course, the obligatory sake bombs at the bar after dinner. I think the guys call them "dessert."

    Kristy and I didn't sake bomb, however, our server Tina always joins the guys for one. I'll stick with green tea martinis.

    So, thank you to Kristy and Ryan. I'm glad we planned a night out. I'm glad I didn't cancel and sit in front of the flat screen. And I'm really glad we're friends.

    Saturday, July 12, 2008

    National Ice Cream Month

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 12. Only 19 more days to go.

    I'm a little behind in reading my food magazines.

    OK, I admit it. I have 4 full shelves full of magazines full of glorious recipes waiting for me to try. But when I received the August 2008 Bon Appetit Magazine, I was practically salivating before I could rip off the plastic cover.

    July is National Ice Cream Month and I can't tell you the last time I had a scoop. Ice cream is one of those foods that as long as I don't start, I won't over~indulge. But if I start, Katie bar the door because it's like an obsession.

    When I do give in to the ice cream urge, I go all the way and nothing will satisfy except for a big scoop of Graeter's black cherry. Or caramel. Or cherry vanilla. Or peppermint. Or cinnamon. Or peach. Or mango sorbet. Wait. That's not truly an ice cream, is it? Who cares! It's cold, creamy and oh so good!

    OK. Now it's official. I have the ice cream urge and nothing is going to satisfy it until I have a scoop.

    Unless it's a glass of a deep, full bodied, spicy, peppery zinfandel.

    Oh by the way. Did you know that you can get a FREE SCOOP of Graeter's ice cream on your birthday? True! Take your driver's license and get any scoop you want.

    Friday, July 11, 2008

    On Air with Keith and JD at WGRR

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 11. Only 20 more days to go.

    I'm a third of the way through the "blog a day for a month" month.


    Survived the week from hell but had to get up extra early this morning to get downtown to WGRR and be on~air with my buddies, Keith and JD, at 7:30. Yes, that's 7:30 IN THE MORNING! Keith and JD have guilted me (JD's words ~ not mine) so that when I actually go into the radio station, I make a tray of food for them.

    Today it was red wine marinated pork tenderloin and dilled potato salad. Not a gourmet feast by any stretch of the imagination, but when you've been up since 3:30 a.m., just about anything will taste good!

    These two are great guys! Really funny, extremely quick witted and just as nice as can be. If they could cook, they'd be just about perfect. Oh, wait. Keith DOES cook. So I guess he's just about perfect. I wonder if his wife knows this?

    Look closely in the left corner of the photo ~ they've stuck Angie Irick in the back corner far away from the food.

    Thanks Keith and JD. It was a blast this morning and I can't wait to see you again in August. I'll bring food again and I promise some good desserts for JD this time!

    Thursday, July 10, 2008

    A Chef Debbie Photo for the Ages!

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 10. Only 21 more days to go.

    Yesterday I was exhausted after the big party of the evening before but had a big client cook day to get through. I love this client ~ but they certainly can be a challenge to cook for.

    So, of course, today was the day that the Cincinnati Enquirer was sending a photographer to take photos of moi for an upcoming article. With the hazy, hot and humid day full of rain and wind making my hair do things that it should never do, my dark baggy eyes and a lovely tomato sauce splotch on my right boob, I'm sure this will be a photo for the ages!

    The photographer, Michael Keating, however, was seriously cool. A 30~year veteran of the Enquirer, he runs a photo website that is a must see for anyone who takes photos ~ amateur, professional or somewhere inbetween. Michael is supposed to send me a photo that he took for me to put on my blog. I'll post it ~ if it isn't too hideous, and if he doesn't forget to send it.

    Yesterday I also received a copy of an article written for the regional Angie's List magazine with a brief Q&A of 3 personal chefs in Cincinnati. And, yes I was one of the PCs interviewed. Thank Bacchus that I didn't have to have another bad photo taken.

    It's been a very hard week this week and a visit with Bacchus is definitely in order as soon as I'm finished today.

    Wednesday, July 9, 2008

    Lick the Platters Clean!

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 9. Only 22 more days to go.

    This blog a day stuff is getting really difficult to keep up with.

    Last night I had a big appy party ~ well the number of guests was small ~ but the amount of food they wanted was huge! And they ate it all! Unbelievable!

    The normal amount of appy bites I should have needed last evening was around 144. They went through over 200 pieces. And they could have eaten as much again.

    There was 3 pounds of beef tenderloin ~ my world famous bourbon glazed BT ~ so much that I had planned to have a nice big piece left over for the event planner as well as a nice piece left for sweet husband and me. Nothing left. Nada. Zip. Zero.

    Same with the salmon ~ sesame dill salmon bites and sweet and spicy salmon bites. Both served on bruschetta toasts with herbed cream cheese. Gone. Bye bye. See ya.

    Spicy garlic sesame chicken, creamy caviar dip, chocolate dipped strawberries, espresso chocolate mousse, veggie tray with herbed onion dip, fruit tray with kaluha dip. It looked like the platters had been licked clean.

    But. Seeing people enjoy my food is the greatest high in the world. It's a whole lot better than the feeling I'd have if they didn't like it!

    Tuesday, July 8, 2008

    CIA French Bootcamp

    A Blog A Day For A Month: Day 8. Only 23 more days to go.

    I've signed up to attend a CIA Bootcamp with my Personal Chef buddy, Debbie Burgess.

    When I first told sweet husband Tim about this, he had a blank look on his face. Huh? CIA? Bootcamp? The CIA?

    I've found that most everyone has the same reaction. Do you really think the government's version of the CIA would want a 50 ~ almost 51 year old ~ short, dumpy, mouthy female as a secret agent spy? Hardly!

    So. To set the record straight.

    In my world, CIA stands for Culinary Institute of America. And instead of spying on the French, instead I'll attempt to weasel their cooking secrets out of them.

    And the "Bootcamp" part of this experience? Well, it will be like the sort of bootcamp you're thinking about. Our day will start at 7:00 a.m. and won't end, many days until well after 11:00 p.m. And, we'll be subjected to potential physical torture ~ from knives, whips and beatings ~ and I'll certainly arrive with a sense of insecurity and trepidation.

    The biggest difference? Why, the food, of course. We'll be eating on campus at restaurants run by CIA chefs and sampling gourmet foods and wines.

    Yep. It'll be rough!