Category Archives: Food

Oscar After Party_featured

A Culinary Sneak Peek Into the Academy’s Official Party

Oscar After PartyWhen does the food prep start? What happens to the unserved food? Food Network Magazine dishes out the details of the Governors Ball, Hollywood’s premier after-Oscar party.

With the Academy Awards tonight, the next big event after the stars walk the red carpet and the golden statues are presented is the all-important after party.

While movie buffs and perpetual party planners were busy working on creative themes and menus of their own, Food Network Magazine went behind the scenes of one of the biggest parties in Hollywood.

Renowned chef Wolfgang Puck is the culinary mastermind behind the popular Governors Ball, the after-Oscar event that hosts 1,500 celebs and other hot shots. Puck has already been at work for several weeks preparing for the star-studded event.

According to the timeline he provided to Food Network Magazine, the menu has long been set, as it’s something he starts thinking about around six weeks before the show. Though Puck is making more than 50 dishes, you can bet mini kobe burgers, smoked salmon and gold-covered chocolate Oscars will be among them—those are served every year.

As you might imagine, when you’re serving 1,500 dinner guests, there are a lot of special requests ranging from vegetarian to gluten-free to raw to vegan. But with a crew of 300 sous chefs from his restaurants, plus culinary students from L.A., the gang’s got it all covered.

The cooks get started early—around 6 a.m.—on the day of the show and continue their preparation while watching a live feed of the ceremony. That’s so they can synchronize having the hot dishes on the table just before the glammed-up guests arrive.

Once the celebs move on to the next venue, the food served at the Governors Ball doesn’t just go to waste. Instead, it’s given to Angel Harvest, a non-profit organization that disperses the unserved leftovers among soup kitchens and shelters to help feed the community.

Not until this last generous duty is complete does Puck afford himself his only luxury of the evening. When he can finally relax, he toasts a job well done with a glass of champagne and calls it a night.


February Heart Month_featured

During Heart Health Month, Try a Lighter Italian Broccoli and Cheese Pasta

February Hearth MonthThe Delicious Dietitian’s Haley Lacey suggests this lighter Italian Broccoli and Cheese Pasta that features whole grains and veggies to show your heart some love this month.

As we are in the middle of American Heart Month, take the time to evaluate your heart health. With a few heart healthy changes, you can prevent heart disease and live a healthier life.

The American Heart Association encourages “The Simple 7” habits that can keep your ticker ticking.

  • Get Active: Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.
  • Control Cholesterol: Know your numbers!  If you haven’t had your cholesterol checked recently, call and make an appointment.
  • Eat Better: Fruits and veggies, lean meats, low fat dairy, and whole grains are the basics for a healthy diet.
  • Manage Blood Pressure: Keep sodium intake in check.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: If you are overweight, a 10% weight loss (20 lbs for someone who weighs 200 lbs) can have numerous health benefits.
  • Control Blood Sugar: Heart disease and diabetes go hand in hand, if you have diabetes, keep blood sugar in a healthy range.
  • Stop Smoking: If you are a smoker, QUIT!  There are wonderful resources available to help you quit, and the health benefits are innumerable.

This yummy pasta dish is a twist on two tried and true family favorites: mac and cheese AND broccoli with cheese sauce—for a fraction of the calories, and with heart healthy ingredients: whole grains, vegetables, and chicken.

The roasted garlic adds a creamy texture and fabulous flavor. Roasted garlic is less pungent than raw garlic; if you’ve never tried it, give it a shot. 

Italian Broccoli and Cheese Pasta

8 oz. whole wheat penne pasta, cooked
1½ Tbsp. olive oil
2 heads roasted garlic*
1½ Tbsp. flour
1 cup no sodium added chicken broth
3/4 cup shredded 2% white cheddar cheese
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets and steamed until crisp-tender
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, grilled and cut into bite-size pieces
1 Tbsp. The Delicious Dietitian Italian Spice Blend


Add olive oil to a large saucepan set over medium heat. Whisk in the roasted garlic paste and cook 30-60 seconds. Whisk the flour into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to turn golden brown, 1-2 minutes. Stir the broth into the pan.  Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.  Whisk in the cheddar and stir until melted. Add Italian Spice Blend, and stir until mixed into sauce.

Mix in the broccoli florets and chicken pieces, and cook just until heated through. Mix in the cooked pasta until evenly coated with the sauce. Serve warm.

*To make roasted garlic paste, peel the outer papery skins off two heads of garlic, leaving the heads intact.  Slice about a quarter off the top of each head so that all of the cloves are partly exposed. Wrap the garlic in foil and bake at 350˚ F for one hour. Remove from the oven and let cool.  Once cool enough to touch, squeeze the garlic cloves out of the peels and smash with a fork to make roasted garlic paste.

More healthy eating advice and delicious recipes can be found on The Delicious Dietitian blog.


Rose Bouquet-featured

How to Make a Bacon Rose Bouquet for Valentine’s Day

Bacon Rose BouquetYour guy probably isn’t big on getting flowers for Valentine’s Day—or otherwise. But he’ll eat up (literally) this special bouquet made of bacon that’s especially easy to make!

If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, then it could possibly be paved with bacon—even on Valentine’s Day.

After all, “bacon chocolate” has been on the rise as a Google search term in the last 30 days.

That could mean anything from chocolate-covered bacon and chocolate-chip bacon cookies.

But if your guy prefers bacon in its purest form—no chocolate, no sprinkles, no nothing—try your hand at a bacon bouquet.

It takes less than an hour to make, and your sweetie will love it (and maybe you) for it.

Here’s how:

make bacon rose

1. Roll up bacon slices to create a spiral. As much as possible, keep the roll tighter on the fatty side, which will be the bottom when you place it in the pan. Flare out the tops, if desired, to give the bacon rose a more “bloomed” look, still while keeping the bottom in a tight roll.

2. Bake for 45-55 minutes in a 350-degree oven. The length of time depends on how crisp you want the bacon.

3. Remove from the oven and place bacon roses on a paper towel to drain grease.

4. The presentation is up to you, but a popular choice is to use artificial rose stems (clean first, of course!) and place in a vase to give your edible bouquet a most authentic look.


Kids Birthday Ideas_featured

Elf Hat Brownie Bites Upstage Birthday Cake at Elf on the Shelf Party

Kids Party IdeasDon’t think you have to slave for hours in the kitchen to bake up something delicious. These Elf Hat Brownie Bites—made at the last minute—nearly upstaged the birthday cake.

Depending on your perspective, it’s either too late—or too early—to be talking Elf on the Shelf.

But not when you’re turning 5 and not when you were (and still) so enamored with the arrival of Santa’s little helper prior to Christmas.

Each time my niece was asked what kind of birthday party she wanted, without hesitation she replied, “Elf on the Shelf.”

At first, we chalked it up to the newness of the elf not wearing off, but even as it got closer it got to the big day, she never wavered.

After years of being spoiled by her typical Disney princess party requests—and the plethora of decoration options—she threw us a bit of a curveball. But it actually came together more easily than expected with a little creative thinking.

The decorations were easy. Red tablecloths, napkins, cups, etc., were plentiful thanks to Valentine’s Day. A tabletop tree was easily found among the Christmas décor. Even the guest of honor—aside from the birthday girl—the Elf on the Shelf made a magical appearance.

Kids Birthday IdeasThe cake, made with Wilton’s book-shaped pan, was inspired by the Elf on the Shelf storybook. The birthday message was written on one side, while the Elf graced the opposite page.

Peppermints in the page corners added a holiday feel, and the Twizzler bookmark gave it a whimsical touch.

Though much more time was spent baking and decorating the cake, the Elf Hat Brownie Bites were the talk of the party.

Thanks to Pinterest (what else?) I got the idea from a recipe that was a little more involved, but the end result was very similar.

Simply bake a brownie mix using a mini cupcake pan. Cool and remove from pan. Add a swirl of buttercream frosting, and garnish with a strawberry with the top sliced off.

Extremely easy and delicious! Not to mention the perfect complement to an Elf on the Shelf birthday party.


Valentines Day Desserts_featured

5 (Fairly) Easy Desserts to Impress Your Sweetheart on Valentine’s Day

Valentines Day DessertsWant to do something sweet (literally) for your sweetie? Whether you’re at ease in the kitchen or just learning your way around, try your hand at one of these heartwarming desserts.

You can earn a lot of brownie points for the effort put forth in making something homemade this Valentine’s Day.

Thankfully, there’s plenty of inspiration to be found in this month’s food and cooking magazines with recipes inspired by everything from the traditional sweet staple (chocolate) to the popular color of the season (red).

Even if you’re crunched for time or want to slowly test the waters, these five fairly easy Valentine’s Day desserts will help you impress your sweetheart with your thoughtfulness.

Chocolate-Cinnamon Pudding, Taste of the South: Pudding isn’t just for kids anymore, not with this dressed-up version topped with chocolate shavings and cinnamon sticks. You’ll have to use the stovetop to make this dessert—no instant shortcuts here—so if you can manage that, you can pull this one off. But, judging by the photo, it looks like it’s worth the risk.

Valentine Sorbet Sandwiches, Everyday Food: A lighter, heart-healthier version of the ice cream sandwich, this treat makes use of sorbet that’s store-bought for a time-saving bonus. The cookie part of the sandwich is made from scratch but isn’t too complicated for a curious or experienced baker to pull off. Some may want to have a store-bought backup just in case.

Red Velvet Cheesecake, Food Network Magazine: This incorporates (almost) all you need for a perfect night: chocolate, red velvet and decadent cheesecake. The magazine says this recipe clocks in at a little over 30 minutes of active preparation, but you’ll want to keep in mind that you’ll have to chill this treat for at least four hours before you can slice and serve.

Strawberry Jam Cake, Cooking With Paula Deen: This fresh confection is perfect for the person who’s not much of a chocolate fan. The light cake gets its berry flavor from strawberry jam spread between its layers, which are then topped with a frosting that incorporates fresh berries. This one’s a little higher on the difficulty level but definitely not impossible.

“Puppy Love” Cherry Crunchies, Every Day With Rachael Ray: You read that right. If the love of your life (at least right now) is your four-legged friend, remember him or her this Valentine’s Day with these dog biscuits flavored with dried cherries. Bonus points for using heart-shaped cookie cutters when cutting out the dough. But either way, your pooch will love you.

King Cake_featured

King (Cake) for a Day: Sweet Mardi Gras Tradition Gets Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade

King Cake Recipe.jpgWant to get in on the Mardi Gras revelry even if the carnival season isn’t celebrated in your city? Try this Big Easy King Cake. It may be the easiest thing you’ll ever make!

Growing up in what many believe is the shadow of New Orleans’ more well known Mardi Gras celebration, I took–and still take–pride in the unique carnival atmosphere that would overtake my hometown of Mobile, Ala., for a couple of weeks out of the year.

Already well underway this year, mystic society members aboard festive, themed floats have been tossing moon pies, doubloons, beads and other random assorted throws (large toothbrushes, stuffed animals, candy, peanuts and panties) into the crowds of revelers that pack the downtown streets.

Though Mobile is gaining some of its rightful notoriety as the birthplace of Mardi Gras, many still place its origins in the Big Easy. Most food and cooking magazines do.

A Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade magazine issue from my archives would be among those. Its January/February 2011 issue featured a New Orleans-inspired menu of Mini Muffulettas, Chicken Gumbo, Chicken Creole, Hurricanes and Big Easy King Cake.

So being 500 miles away from home, Mardi Gras and a “real” king cake, I opted to do the next best (and easiest) thing. I made that Big Easy King Cake from Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade, and it is both big and easy.

More bread-like but sweetened with cinnamon and sometimes cream cheese, king cake is one of the staples of Mardi Gras, and Sandra’s is one of the easiest recipes I’ve seen–or made. Simply arrange canned cinnamon rolls on a pan and bake. Top with the icing that’s included, then sprinkle with sugars in the season’s traditional colors of purple, green and gold. Or you can tint the icing instead.

The colors are said to represent the three gifts the wise men bestowed upon the baby Jesus, who some say is represented by the small plastic baby that is inserted in the cake after baking. Tradition also has it that the person who finds it is declared “king” for the day. Others say that lucky person must provide the king cake at the next party or even host a Mardi Gras gathering.

Fat Tuesday, which this year is February 12, will mark the end of the king cake’s season–at least if you’re looking to find it at a local bakery. But if you’re looking to let the good times roll–or as we say in Mobile, “laissez les bons temps rouler”–you can make this easy treat for a taste of carnival wherever you are.