Here It Is!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Just in time for Christmas -- your very own copy of Sauciness!  Yes kiddos, it's true, my book is finally done and ready to be shipped to your doorstep.  I'm already getting recognized when I go out to stores and whatnot... it's very overwhelming.

Ok, so I did get "recognized" when I went to Toys-R-Us this morning (for an insanely fast and frustrating Christmas shopping spree for the kids.  I used to think I liked Christmas shopping, then I went to Toys-R-Us on a Saturday in December.) As the checkout girl was trying to remember where she'd seen me, Ted prompted her with "she's a famous food blogger, cookbook author.... maybe that's where you've seen her?"  Her response brought me right back down to earth:  "No, that's not it, but I know I've seen you somewhere.  Do you work at a salon?"  So much for fame!

So anyway, you want to get your oven mitts on a copy of my book, and you're wondering how.  It'll be live on in a couple of weeks, but it's live NOW at the following safe, secure, easy Createspace link (where we also get a better royalty percentage:)  Go, and buy to your hearts content!

Saucily yours,

Saucy Broad Catering Kickoff

Monday, November 15, 2010

Big first on Friday -- for the very first time in my life, I actually made money doing something I love!  Yes indeedy -- an acquaintance (not just my mom) asked if he could hire me to cook the food for his rehearsal dinner!  While it's true that I'm not the most ambitious of broads, it has always been a very special dream of mine that some fine day I could earn money with a skill more unique than being able to file papers alphabetically.  And the fact that I got to do this gig the day before my birthday seemed fitting, sort of a chance to check something else off the "life goals." 

The menu requested was traditional thanksgiving food, since the couple will be on their honeymoon over the holiday.  So that meant turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans yeast rolls and both apple crumb pie and pumpkin pie.  I spent Thursday roasting turkeys (3 of them), baking pies and yeast rolls.  Friday was an all day affair; I spent 12 hours straight in the church kitchen getting all the food ready (which was super fun) and cleaning up afterwards (significantly less fun.)  And the best part of it all was that I actually pulled it off!  The food (for 50 people) was served hot at the time requested ... and I was quite pleased with how it all turned out!  It was exciting to see the whole thing come together, pretty much just the way I planned.

A big huge thank you goes out to Ted, who not only encouraged me to do this (when I was scared to try it) but actually came and peeled potatoes and washed dishes with me -- even though that kind of work is beneath a big-time media mogul like him.  And thanks goes to Scotty too, who took a break from the party to lend his hands for the few frantic minutes of trying to get everything out on the buffet.  And then we also got a huge shot in the arm from our buddy David Tobey, who was killing some time at the church and agreed to come in and wash dishes in exchange for some dating advice. (*Note to all the single ladies out there: David Tobey is one heckuva guy -- the total package.  Look him up!*)  He came right when we were feeling tired and overwhelmed by the growing pile of dirties in the sink, and rejuvenated us with conversation and cleanliness!

So maybe some day I'll have a big white catering van, and be zipping around town from gig to gig with a big staff of dish washers at my beck and call, but for now I'm pretty excited to have actually done it.  And maybe, just maybe, the next time someone asks me what I do... I can say "I cater."  That would be cool.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Maxim tucking into his bowl of borscht

Now that is a satisfied customer!

I love borscht, this wonderful Ukrainian soup made from beets and cabbage.  There are lots of reasons: 1) It's delicious 2) It's good for you 3) It's a really pretty color (bright red, from the beets -- even the potatoes turn pink!) 4) It has sentimental value, from all our trips to Ukraine 5) It's healthy but my kids actually like it 6) It's soup, so of course I like it 7) It makes me feel smug and superior to like (and be able to make!) such an obscure, exotic dish.  And by saying that, I confirm what you've always suspected: I am a shallow, shallow person!

So for all my reasons, good and bad, for liking borscht, I really look forward to soup season, and the chance to make it again.  This last week, I made it as the side dish for Christianity Explored (the big group of people I cook for weekly) along with Beef Stroganoff.  And I'm always so excited to serve it, and expose people to it's wonderful nuances of flavors, that I sort of take it personally if they don't like it.  Which is so dumb -- I mean, really, it is a bit of an acquired taste, completely foreign to the American palate.  But people get scared off by the fact that it's got weird red broth and lots of cabbage in it, and don't give it a fair shake.  Or they just flat out don't like it.  And I realized that perhaps my eager presence next to their chairs, watching every bite, compulsively asking "Do you like it? It's good isn't it? You like it, right?!?" was counter-productive.  Maybe people even felt a little pressured to pretend they liked it.  So I'm just going to say it: it's OK if you don't like it.  I will stop judging you.  But if you want to try it... give me a call!  I've got a whole lot of leftovers.  And the recipe will be forthcoming, in my book.  Which is on-schedule, to be released November 13, thanks to the efforts of our hard-working intern, Nicole LaChance (aka: Cupcake.)

Leftovers which got carried home in my car.  And leaked onto the floor of my car.  Which now smells like borscht.  Perhaps I am being punished for my arrogance, how appropriate!

Oh, one other thing.  I'm not getting a lot of love in the comments section here.  I know, I know, I don't write very often.  But maybe if what I did write got a little more appreciation.... just saying.

Pasta e Fagoli

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's soup season in Michigan -- one of my favorite times of the year.  Beautiful sunny days and chilly nights, perfect for snuggling up with some hot cider, a good book, the love of your life, or -- a steaming bowl of soup!  I love soup for so many reasons.  It's hot, therefore the opposite of a cold, soggy sandwich that has sat in your locker all day.  (Yes, carrying my lunch to school for 12 years seriously messed with my head.)  It's a great way to painlessly ingest some veggies.  And it's a great way to fill up without eating a load of calories.  Which has become rather important for me lately... the book will be out soon, and you will all have a chance to cook like you're Saucy.  Which is delicious.  And not always good for the figure, espcially if you're 5 foot nothing like me!  So, I am focusing on the soup and salad sections of my book.  And thought that some of you might appreciate a delicious lower calorie recipe right now, as a little preview.  This soup, a traditional Italian pasta and bean soup, is chock full of veggies and beans (so lots of fiber.  Read between the lines here, kiddos, and take your beano!) in a delicious savory sauce, perfect for dipping crusty bread into.  It's filling and very satisfying, without weighing you down.  Enjoy!

Pasta e Fagoli

1 TB olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp dried basil
1 large or 2 small cans tomatoes, cut up
6 cups chicken broth
3 15 oz cans beans, drained (kidney, navy, great white northern, or a mix)
3 cups uncooked pasta
salt and pepper
sliced green onions and parmesan cheese for garnish

Heat the oil and cook the onion and carrots for about 6 minutes. Add the bell pepper, garlic, oregano and basil and cook 2 minutes more. Add the tomato, and cook 6 more minutes.

Pour half the beans and half the broth into a blender or food processor and puree. Add this to the soup, with the remaining broth and beans. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes, skimming off any foam.

Add the pasta and boil uncovered until pasta is nearly tender. Correct seasonings with salt, pepper, and a little more basil. Serve immediately. Leftovers can be frozen.


Monday, September 27, 2010

This last weekend I made the trip down to beautiful NashVegas, where my brother and his family live.  Ted Kluck, world-famous author/speaker/screenwriter/publishing mogul, was the featured speaker at the men's retreat hosted by my brother's church.  So off went Ted and Jeff to do Very Manly Things, leaving Catha and I to corral 6 squirrely kids.  It was a great weekend, with some great food.  Catha has perfected a recipe for this unique sourdough pizza -- it's totally amazing.  And I would share the recipe with all of you -- except that you have to start with this special sourdough starter, and you can't share that over a blog. So we'll all just have to content ourselves with the boring yeast dough pizza crust recipe in my cookbook.

Speaking of cookbooks!!!  My brainchild, my Magnum Opus, just moments ago was forwarded on to Gut
Check Press's own copy and layout editor-extraordinare: Nicole LaChance, the Intern!  What does that mean to you, you ask?  It means that soon, very soon, you will be able to get your grubby little paws on your very own copy of Saucy Broad!  Yes, the wait is almost over -- all my secret recipes will soon be yours.  Begin salivating now.

Ahem.  I got a little off topic there.  That's bound to happen, I guess.  My whole point with that long lead up was to talk about the Food Network show Chopped.  I started with all of that because we don't currently get the Food Network at our humble abode, so I only have the opportunity to watch it when I'm someplace that does (like Jeff and Catha's house.)  I have a love/hate relationship with Chopped.  It is true that almost any show on TV (sports excepted, commercials included) will keep me glued to the tube, unable to do anything else, including complete a sentance.  I blame this on my mom, who limited my childhood TV watching so much that the forbidden fruit element is just too tantalizing, to this day.  Moms, you better let the kiddies watch a little, or they might turn out like me! 

I digress again.  Chopped, from the very first time I saw it, was even more riviting than the average TV drivel.  I love the food element, of course, and the creativity that is a part of each show.  But the judging is insane!  The first few times I watched it (obsessively, several shows in a row, one night this summer while holed up in a hotel room with a sweet cable package) I actually got personally nervous as the judges picked apart each chef's offering!  As in, heart pounding, palms sweating, trouble breathing, the whole works!  I couldn't sleep that night, laying awake wondering just what I would have made from sardines, papaya and ginger snaps.  In case you've never seen the show - 4 chefs come in and have 30 minutes to prepare an appetizer, then entree, then dessert encorporating 4 mystery ingredients that are totally random.  After each round, the judges taste the food, make a bunch of snobby critiques (such as "he didn't appreciate the texture of the tortilla!"), and elimate one of the chefs.  By the time it's the dessert round, only 2 chefs are left, and it's pretty intense.  I always feel so bad for these poor chefs, who have to come up with a dish off the fly encorporating ingredients they have often never cooked with or tasted, only to have their efforts ripped by these food snobs.  Yet there is something about it that makes me itch to try it!  I'm sure I'd crumple under the pressure, but yet it's all so intriguing.

I've always had a weird problem with competition.  I hate the Olympics -- it seems so sad and injust to me that the absolute fastest people in the world get together, and then somebody lives and dies over 1/100th of a second.  I mean, most people can't run a mile in less than 7 minutes, much less 4 something.  I just sort of feel like they should all get medals.  Ted assures me that this is the deeply buried Commie in me coming out.  I guess I feel the same way about Chopped.  I mean, these people show up and whip up something fabulous under the craziest of circumstances, and then these judges have the nerve to criticize?  It makes me crazy!  But you better believe I'll be there, glued to the tube, pulse pounding, mind racing, the very next chance I get.

Cooking for 50

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lots of you know (and there are lots of you, I'm sure, dear readers!) that I cook for this program at my church.  It's called Christianity Explored, and it's this cool way for skeptics and people who are curious about Christianity to come discuss it in an almost academic-type setting.  It's really cool, and since we're close to a huge university, lots of people from other countries have come and checked it out.  And, to sort of sweeten the deal, we serve dinner at the beginning -- and that's my domain!

When I was first asked to cook for this, I had distasteful visions of churning out watery plates of spaghetti or sad bisquick pancakes, and I wasn't real interested.  But then I was told that I would have a budget, but I could make whatever I wanted.  So I jumped in.  We've been doing this now for ... gosh, I can't even remember, 4 or 5 sessions  (each session is 10 weeks) and I just love it. I sit around and dream up new and exciting meals to make, and ways to make old favorites better.  I have an awesome crew of friends who come in and help me, and we whip up some mighty tasty meals, I have to say.  And we have a great time doing it!

So last night was the beginning of a new session, and as usual on the day of the first CE, I was so excited yesterday afternoon that I couldn't even take a nap!  We had a great lineup of dishes: Balsamic Chicken, what I call "Pesto Primavera" (it's pasta and fresh, sauted veggies like carrots and zuchinni and bell peppers topped with homemade pesto sauce.) and Bruschetta (toasted bread topped with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella - see picture below).  A luscious Brownie Cheesecake topped with Raspberry Sauce finished it off -- quite well, too, if I may say so.  Gosh that was a good meal!  And yes, all those recipes are in the cookbook.

Bruschetta topping
The thing I love about food, besides the way it tastes so good, is the way it brings people together.  I had my crew in the kitchen, laughing and talking and having a great time (Ted always comes with random, crazy questions that we all have to answer.  This week it was "what famous person would you like to beat up?"  That Ted, what a card!) And then outside the kitchen were people, literally, from all over the world, getting together and talking about God.  All over the catalyst of food.  Isn't that something?

Roll Up...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hey Readers,

A wise person (my mother in law) told me I should actually put some of my book recipes on the blog.  So here's a recipe straight out of the book, for fajitas, in all their rolled, sizzling glory.  I served this meal recently at the Gut Check Press/Facing Tyson wrap party, to celebrate the completion of Ted's first audio book (which is the audio version of his first book).  The book is amazing, and if you don't invest $12.99 to acquire it, frankly, I don't know what's wrong with you.  I weep for your future. 

Anyway.  It was a great party, and it gave us a change to rekindle some old connections, Jen and Bill Colin, who weirdly enough were old acquaintances from Taylor University and are now members of the Gut Check Army (Bill's company did the audio on FT, and did so splendidly I might add).  A great time was had by all. To reproduce the fiesta atmosphere (minus the awesomeness of Ted and Zach) at "Su Casa" follow the recipe below: 


I love fajitas, the whole sizzling meat thing. For a while I would use these lame marinades and spice packages, but it was never that great. Then, our good friends Chris and Beth lived in LA for a few years, and when they came back home, they showed us how it's done in the southwest. It's so much simpler, fresher, and tastier than all that bottled goo, I've been doing it this way every since. I didn't include amounts here, because it's really easy to adjust to your tastes and family size. But just for proportion sake, I would probably use 2 chicken breasts with 1 each onion and bell pepper, and it would serve 3 or 4 people. This is a meal that makes the most sense to make for lots of people, because it's best with a whole lot of food variety (several different colored peppers, but you only need a little bit of rice and beans.)

olive oil

boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced very thin

garlic cloves, minced or pressed

sweet onion (like vidalia), quartered and sliced

colored bell peppers, sliced into bite-sized pieces

fresh limes or lime juice

cilantro leaves, chopped

tortillas, shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, refried beans and spanish rice to serve with it

Heat some oil over medium heat in a large frying pan or wok. Add the chicken, stirring while you cook until it is nearly cooked through. Squeeze some fresh lime juice over top, sprinkle with cilantro, salt and pepper and finish cooking. Remove from heat and set aside. In the same pan, heat some more olive oil, and add the garlic and onion. Saute until the onion is softened, then add the bell peppers. Cook just for a minute or two (I like my peppers crunchy and not mushy) then squeeze on some more lime juice, sprinkle with cilantro, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and serve with the chicken. Roll it up in tortillas with all the side trimmings:

Tikka Masala

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I'm in the midst of the Big Push to finish my book by Labor Day.  I have this brilliant ability to start projects, and then just sort of ... never finish them.  I get distracted by a new project, or I get overwhelmed by the scope of the project, or I start obsessing over making all the little tiny details of making the project absolutely perfect (which is never possible... thus it never gets finished.)  But my publisher is really breathing down my neck, telling me I gotta finish this book ASAP, so I have buckled down to do it.

Part of this no-nonsense approach to finishing my book included wonderful cooperation from both my mom and my in-laws -- they each took one kid on for a night or two so I could really focus.  And since we didn't have any kids around, my publisher and I decided we'd better seize the day and get inspired over a meal out, at my favorite local restaurant, Sindu.

Sindu is this great Indian (as in South Asia, not Native American) restaurant over near campus.  The service is indifferent, the decor a little sad, the bathrooms dreadful, and the music a strange mix of caterwauling vocals and tinny sitars.  But the food -- holy cow!!!  We were taken there years ago by some friends, and it's been our date night restaurant of choice ever since.  We always (and I mean always) get Chicken Tikka Masala, medium, with a side of Paneer Naan.  This could very well be the sweet and sour chicken of Indian cuisine, with the waiters laughing behind their hands at us uncouth Americans who never try anything else.  But I don't care, it's so, so good! 

Which brings me to an important question:  are common things lame because they are common, or are they common because they are awesome?  I get Tikka Masala because it's awesome.  I read Jane Austen because her books are awesome.  I order Pad Thai because it's awesome.  I love the Bourne Identity movies because they are awesome.  Just because everyone else in the free world knows about these things and likes them doesn't make them any less awesome, does it?  Sure, occasionally you stumble across some little known book, food, movie, boutique, or band that you, in your unique coolness can enjoy and champion -- but if it's that good, other people are probably going to be on to it before too long.  So, now that I've worked this out through the catharsis of my blog, I am now going to proudly order my Tikka Masala without a trace of shame.  Anyone up for Indian food?

Welcome! (And a Humbling Cake Story)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The terribly beautiful citrus merange cake. 
Welcome to Saucy Broad!  This is supposed to be the blog that will get you all excited about my book, "Saucy Broad: A Culinary Manifesto of Hope," and impress you mightily with my mad cooking skills. Which means I really shouldn't start out with the tale of my most recent kitchen disaster... but I will.

When I started cooking (which was probably when I was 7 or 8) I wanted so badly to made pretty cakes.  Of course, my idea of a pretty cake at that time was a cake with a picture drawn on it with lots of different colors of frosting.  I got discouraged about ever being able to make a cake that was truly beautiful, and figured I would just work on making stuff taste good (since that was the whole point.)  When I lived in Lithuania, I remember seeing trays of beautiful desserts that were tasteless and dry.  So for years, my motto was to worry about the taste, and that looks were secondary.  Maybe I was transferring my mom's advise about how being the nice person with character is so much better than being the shallow hottie (maybe she told me this because she knew I had no chance of being a hottie.)  In the last few years, however, I have learned a few tricks that have enabled me to get a little closer to the goal of making something both tasty and beautiful.  And the other day, I thought I had done it.

I had been experimenting with angelfood cakes, trying to come up with new variations.  I made a wonderful coffee angelfood cake that I topped with chocolate whipped cream that was quite good.  But I got greedy -- I wanted some more.  And I had seen a recipe for Seven Minute Frosting, an old classic frosting that uses egg whites and sugar to make a glossy white merangue-like frosting.  So I had my brilliant idea:  a citrusy angelfood cake topped with peaks of this pretty frosting.  I baked the cake with lots of lemon zest and fresh squeezed juice, frosted it with the Seven Minute Frosting (which took more like 20 minutes to make) and topped it with more lemon zest. And it was a sight to behold, by far the best looking cake I had ever created.  But it was terrible!  The cake had this weird bitter aftertaste and the frosting was sickeningly sweet and everything was just too airy and fluffy and weird.  Horrible!  In fact, the thought of the taste of that cake, several days later, still makes my stomache turn.  As my grandma would say: pretty is as pretty does (I actually have no idea what this means, but had to nod very respectfully/somberly as she said this).

So now you know, dear readers and fans, that anyone can make a mistake in the kitchen.  You just gotta get yourself up, dust the flour off your hands, and try, try again!  Stick with me, and maybe I'll have some good stuff to tell you about too.  And Kevin and Rachael, so sorry for "treating" you to that horrible cake.  I'll make it up to you, I promise!

And while you're waiting for the next post (which I'm sure you'll be doing...and nothing else), visit (shameless promotion alert) (my publisher) and buy stuff.  Also visit (my husband) and buy some stuff there too. 

Yours, in Cooking and Reading,
The Saucy Broad