Friday, May 29, 2009

Easy Summer Cooking.

Summer's here and most of us are looking for ways to stay out of the kitchen and stay cool. Here at Chez Jal, we eat lots of salads and cook on the grill as much as we can. Following is one of my favorite salads, and I like it anytime of the year.

Wheat Berry Salad

1/2 cup wheat berries
3 cups of water
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup thinly sliced radish
1/2 cup peeled, seeded and diced cucumber
5 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 medium tomatoes, seed and chopped
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 tbsp fresh lime or lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Place the wheat berries and water into a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and simmer until berries are tender, usually at least one hour.
Drain berries and place in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors mingle. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Before I go to bed, I thought I would post a quick recipe that I tried recently.

Mango and Avocado salad
adapted from Prevention magazine.

2 mangoes, diced
4 avocados, diced
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
1/4 packed cup parsley, chopped
1/4 packed cup mint, chopped
juice and zest of 2 limes

Toss ingredients together, chill for 1 hour. Serve as an accompaniment to grilled meats.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ham Fried Rice Surprise

This was NOT what was supposed to be for dinner tonight. I was going to make a hash with leftover Easter ham and sweet potatoes. However, the bag of frozen diced orange things in my freezer were not sweet potatoes. They were carrots. SURPRISE! Luckily I thought to taste them before I dumped the whole bag into the skillet. So I just didn't use the whole bag, cut back on the amount of ham I was going to use and added some precooked rice with raisins I had in the fridge. It was FANTASTIC!!! It was so good, mom made me go make some more rice so I could make another batch of it.

Ham Fried Rice
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup diced carrots
2 cups cooked rice
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup shredded or diced ham
1-2 tbsp of ham juice/drippings
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet until smoking hot. Carefully add the carrots, celery and onion. Stir fry until onion is translucent and beginning to color. Add the rice and raisins and mix into the vegetable mixture. Toss in the ham and mix it in along with the ham juice. Add salt and pepper and heat the mixture thoroughly.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


I hope everyone had a great Easter. I've been doing some baking this week. not for Easter, but just because. The first cake I made was from scratch, the second one used a mix. I'll try to give you the recipes, but I have a tendency to not measure. First is the homemade cake. This is a basic 1-2-3-4 cake. Look at the ingredients list and you'll see why!

Chocolate Chip, Pecan and Coconut Cake

1 cup oil
2 cup sugar
3 cups self rising flour
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla, coconut or butter extract/flavoring
8 tablespoons liquid (I used water, but feel free to use what you have)
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cup angel flake coconut

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare your pan by spraying with nonstick spray (I use Bakers Joy when I bake). Whisk the oil, sugar and eggs together until light and lemony in color. Stir in the flour, incorporating it well. Add the liquid and mix well. Stir in the pecans, chips and coconut, blending well (lots of's a deep cake!). Pour the batter into your prepared pan(s). Bake until golden brown and a tester comes out clean (not including melted chocolate chips!).
Allow to cool on in the pan for about 10 minutes. Turn out onto a rack to finish cooling. Frost, glaze or leave plain as you like.

This one is a dump cake. You basically dump everything into your pan, stir it up and put it in the oven. Lots of people use pie filling, I find that too sweet, so I use either canned or fresh fruit. Use whatever is in season.

1 cake mix
1 can of fruit, drained, juice reserved
1/2 cup nuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Read the directions on the back of the cake mix. Gather those ingredients together, using the juice from the fruit instead of water. Dump the fruit into the bottom of an 8x8 pan, then the nuts, then sprinkle the cake mix on top. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, oil and liquid. Pour over everything and mix it together lightly. Place in the oven and bake until set. It should take about 30-45 minutes. Allow to cool until you just can't stand it!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Slow Cooker Roast Beef

I love using my slow cooker. It's soooo easy to be creative with it. The problem I have with the slow cooker is that it's hard to make small amounts in it. I'd freeze the left-overs, but I usually don't have room in my freezer. I haven't tried this recipe yet, but I think I will this weekend.

Recipe: Melt in Your Mouth Slow Cooker Beef
Author: Zestycook
Ingredients  1 Beef roast (about 4lbs)
3 Cloves of garlic
1/2 Cup red wine
12 Button mushrooms
6 Large cherry tomatoes
1/4 Cup low sodium chicken
broth Salt and pepper to taste
Dried thyme
1. Place meat in slow cooker (trim or remove any extra fat off the meat).
2. Add mushrooms, garlic and tomatoes.
3. Add salt and pepper.
4. Add wine and chicken stock.
5. Toss in the dried thyme.
6. Cover and set on to LOW and cook for at least 8 hours.
7. Remove meat and vegetables and transfer sauce to pan.
8. Bring sauce to a boil and reduce.
9. Add 1 tbsp. cornstarch to 2 tbsp. Cold Water and mix in a bowl.
10. Add mixture to sauce pan bring to a boil and let thicken.
11. Carve meat, drizzle with sauce.
12. ENJOY!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

One World, One Plate

Occasionally, my friends and I do potluck dinners. It's kinda fun, because only two of us really cook. This weekend, we did an Irish themed dinner to celebrate St. Patricks Day. My friend Gryphon is an excellent cook and made this killer Irish Stew, southern style. Click the link to check out his brand new recipe blog. Our friend Tserof contributed the ingredients to make blue cheese stuffed mushrooms. Tserof, a consummate bachelor, hates to cook, so he'll buy the ingredients, and either me or his mom will make whatever it is. My contribution were these cakes. Although they are not terribly Irish, they were still darn good. I baked them in miniature Bundt cake pans and glazed them with a Dark Chocolate Ganache.

White Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

2 cups sifted self rising flour
2 cups toasted hazelnuts
4 ounces white chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare your pans by either coating them lightly with shortening, then dusting with flour, or using a nonstick spray such as Bakers Joy, which is both the oil and flour in spray form and a product that I love. It makes SOO much less mess!!

2. Grind the hazelnuts with 3/4 cup of the sugar. They should be fairly fine, but not a paste. Stir this together with the flour

3. Melt the chocolate in the top pan of a double boiler. No double boiler? Place the chocolate in a metal or glass bowl and place over a pan of hot, not boiling water. Make sure the water level isn't touching the bottom of the pan/bowl. Stir to make sure it is completely melted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool until comfortable to touch.

4. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and one cup of the sugar until light and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and beaters several times. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

5. Turn the mixer to low. Add the flour mixture and milk alternately to batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Add the vanilla and white chocolate, blending well.

6. Pour the mixture into your prepared pans. Bake in the lower third of your oven for 40-50 minutes for the sheet cake, 35 to 45 minutes for layers, or until the top is slightly springy and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake(s) to cool in the pan(s) on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pans and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Frost as desired.

Dark Chocolate Ganache
8 oz Hershey's Special Dark chocolate Kisses
1 can evaporated milk

Unwrap the Kisses and place in a 1 cup liquid measuring cup. Add some evaporated milk to fill the spaces between the kisses, just to the top of them. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir. If the kisses aren't melted, nuke them in 10 second intervals until you can get a smooth, shiny glaze. Use on anything you want to use a chocolate glaze on. I highly suggest some donuts or the above cake.

Blue cheese stuffed mushrooms
1 lb large button mushrooms
8 oz blue cheese (it needs to be a soft creamy cheese)
8 oz cream cheese
1 clove garlic

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and place on a baking sheet, sprayed with non-stick spray. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

2. Mash the clove of garlic with a little salt to form a paste.

3. Place the garlic paste, the cream cheese and the blue cheese into the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat together to form a smooth mixture.

4. Spoon the mixture in the mushroom caps and place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melty and browned and oozy.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Long time no see

I know I haven't posted in a while. I have been very busy with a local ministry called Provision Port. We provide food, clothing, and hygiene items to the needy in our community. We recently got a building donated to us, the old abandoned hospital here in town. It needed a lot of work. Our grand opening is on March 10th. It's taken a lot of work to get us to the point we can even consider presenting it to the public. The building had been abandoned for the past 8 years. There has been a lot of mold and mildew to clean up. The wall paper was peeling, the floors are coming up. The building is right in the middle of the federal housing projects, so there has been a lot of illegal activities going on in the building as well. When I can sit and think more about what I want to write here, I'll post more.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cranberry Brisket

found this at and thought it sounded really good. You can do it in your slow cooker too.

1 (3 pound) beef brisket
1 cup Catalina salad dressing
1 (1 ounce) envelope dry onion soup mix
1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place brisket in 9x13 inch pan.
2.In a medium bowl, combine dressing, soup mix, and cranberries. Pour over brisket, and cover pan with foil.
3.Cook for 3 to 4 hours, or until brisket is extremely tender. Brisket will get very dark/caramelized; this adds flavor, and doesn't mean that you have overcooked it.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2009 Printed from 2/3/2009

Monday, January 26, 2009


I love to cook. That's probably obvious since I write a cooking blog. But I hate having to clean the kitchen afterwards. That's not quite true. I actually like washing dishes, especially if I have a window to look out of. and no, I do not have a dishwasher. I wish I did. I would probably cook a lot more than I do if I didn't have to clean the kitchen. I really want to go make some fudge right now (just a kit) but the thought of having to clean up the mess is keeping from it! arrrgh!! The dilemmas of being a cook/wanna be chef....

Check out Southern Plate

I love the Southern Plate Blog, it's the one I look forward to reading everyday! Christy has great southern recipes and ideas as well as a great sense of humor and writing style. During the month of February she is giving away a ton of great stuff. As a coffee lover, I am soooo entering for the coffee lovers give away as often as I can. So head over to southern plate and check it out!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


It's that time of year again. Time for the Pillsbury $1,000,000 Bake-Off competition. I plan on entering this year. I have no idea what I will make for it, but my friends I am sure will be happy to let me experiment on them. If you're interested in entering, just go here. I know most of (ok, ALL) of us could use a million dollars. So, if you enter, good luck!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I love to garden. I'm really not physically able to get down in the dirt to do it much, but I have a nice little container garden on my back porch. This year a friend of mine says I can use her house and yard and that she will help me with it. I'm so excited! I've been getting all kinds of seed catalogs and my little 4 plant garden is becoming a farm. I want to plant everything I see! Tomatoes, peppers, peas, green beans, okra, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, zucchini, yellow squash, pumpkin and eggplant. These are the things I am thinking of and would like to plant. I would really like to go organic, so that what I plant depends on what organic seeds I can get. My friend and I also like to can, so we're looking at things that are easy to put up. I just love the way fresh vegetables look. They're so pretty and colorful and can really make a dish. I really enjoyed doing it this past summer with just my little containers, so I'm really looking forward to having a real garden.