We Scream For An Ice Cream Sundae Contest!

August 3, 2010 at 11:36 am , by

Ladies of LHJ with Gale Gand

Here at LHJ, we started our morning on a super sweet note thanks to a visit from famed cookbook author and pastry chef Gale Gand! Gale has teamed up with Breyers Ice Cream for its Sundae Scoop-Off Contest, and she swung by LHJ to tell us more about it and to share some of her favorite cold creations with us.

The person that submits the most unique, yummy and appealing sundae in 10 or fewer ingredients takes the cake – well, the ice cream in this case – and wins the grand prize of $10,000, a trip for four to Chicago for a private cooking lesson with Gale and one year’s supply of Breyers ice cream. Nine others will win a “Super Sundae Prize Package” (one year of free Breyers ice cream, $500 and sundae making supplies). Talk about a sweet deal!

Gale also shared her own spins on the classic sundae with us. Indulging both our sophisticated sweet tooth and the kid in us all, we sampled herIce Cream Lollipops 2 (Small) mini coffee sundaes and ice cream lollipops – perfect desserts for family fun or your next dinner party.

“An embellished ice cream dish is the perfect way to end a meal,” Gale said. She recommends thinking about contrast when dreaming up your dessert like a combination of crunchy and smooth textures in a sundae. Try crumbling a shortbread cookie over your ice cream and fruit, she said.

Make the most of your cool-off treats this summer by checking out Gale’s other sundae-making tips and recipes and enlist the help of your kiddos to come up with the grand-prize-worthy sundae. Or make the yummy ice cream desserts we enjoyed!

Mini Coffee Ice Cream Sundae 2 (Small)

Cookbook Round-Up: New Favorites

March 30, 2010 at 5:18 pm , by

cookbooksYou wouldn’t believe the number of cookbooks that cross my desk in a week. While most are forgettable, Tara and I have have been quite taken with a few recent offerings. Here are some of our new favorites:

  • For every kitchen, a great new reference - If you miss Sara Moulton on television as much as I do (former host of Cooking Live and Sara’s Secrets on Food Network and Sara’s Weeknight Meals on PBS) then you’ll really appreciate her new book, Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners. It’s full of classic (Chicken Cassoulet) and unique recipes (Fruit Dumplings), as well as useful kitchen tips and tricks.
  • For the glamorous “hostess-with-the-mostess” - New York City restauranteur Donatella Arpaia makes the simplest foods chic and fab in her new book Donatella Cooks. Her Mediterranean recipes could not be easier—many call for just a few ingredients! Come Summertime, I can’t wait to try her Zucchini Fritters and Bocconcini with Peaches.
  • For the advanced pastry cook who dreams about moving to Paris – If you aren’t reading famed pastry chef David Lebovitz’s blog then allow me to introduce you. He writes about 2 of my favorite things in life: baked goods and Paris, chronicling his sweet exploits along the way. Ready for Dessert, is a gorgeous new offering full of homey (Cherry-Almond Cobbler) and haute (Pistachio-Cardamom Cake) recipes.
  • For the young mom looking to add a bit zest to her meals - I love Daisy Martinez because she is a culinary school grad who uses her classical training to help the home cook. This FORR (Friend of Rachael Ray) is famous for her Latin cuisine. Daisy: Morning, Noon and Night, is full of fun recipes like Bacon and Shrimp Empanadas and Avocados stuffed with Crab-Mango Salsa.
  • For the sometimes baker – Do you love to bake treats for your office mates? Are cupcakes and cookies part of your baking repertoire? Then you’ll love Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell. This homage to the famous Pennsylvanian treat features recipes for sweet and savory whoopies. We love the classic Chocolate, but can’t wait to try Chocolate Chip or Banana. You know, some say whoopie pies are the new cupcake!
  • For the home cook who’s tired of chicken for dinner…again! -Recipes for chicken are some of the most searched for on the web. Chicken is versatile and inexpensive, but it can get boring, so when chef John Torode’s new book Chicken & Other Fowl arrived I was intrigued. His take on the humble bird is truly inspiring and will definitely help you rethink this weeknight staple. Try one of his Curries or Roast Chicken with Tarragon Sauce.

Do you have a favorite cookbook? Share it with us!

A Little Something Sweet

March 10, 2010 at 11:00 am , by

chocolateMeet our newest guest blogger, LHJ intern Sara Kay! Sara enjoyed an indulgent chocolate tasting last week (not a bad perk, right?) and reported on it for us.

When you bite into a piece of decadent, heart-warming chocolate, the last thing that probably comes to your mind is “Gee, I wonder what this chocolate tasted like when it was just a bean?”  For those of you who fall into the minority, however, the National Confectioners Association has the answer for you. I attended their tasting event last Wednesday with world-renowned chocolate connoisseur Jacques Torres, who lead the discussion on the making of  chocolate and had tasty treats to share along the way.


I had the honor of sitting in on this chocolate journey. There was a fun presentation about the progression of chocolate from bean to bar, from the original seed to the cocoa bean, to cocoa butter, all the way to the nicely packaged bar of chocolate that can be bought at your local grocery store. We sampled tasty bites of the bar throughout each stage of production (though some were not so tasty; the beginning of the life of chocolate tastes NOTHING like the good chocolate we’re used to buying and enjoying).

There was a lot to learn, including the proper way to taste a piece of chocolate by looking, listening, smelling, and then finally, tasting. Thoughtfully, of course. The process was best described by Torres himself: “Bravo!”

Photos courtesy of Charlotte Fouch at Fleishman-Hillard.

Ladies We Love: Rachel, Nichelle and Stacie of Cupcakes Take the Cake

October 14, 2009 at 12:20 pm , by

rachel and nichelleRachel Kramer Bussel, Nichelle Stephens (pictured at right) and Stacie Joy are the women behind one of the sweetest blogs we know, Cupcakes Take the Cake. Now you may be wondering when the whole cupcake fad is going to blow over, but these ladies have been blogging since 2004 and they’re convinced that cupcakes are here to stay. Cupcake lovers come to CTTC for recipes, decorating ideas, event listings—you can even find a cupcake shop in your area. So give their blog a look, and we totally don’t blame you for stopping by a bakery on your way home!

Rachel Kramer Bussel
What makes me a lady: I write thank you notes (and send snail mail), I’m a good friend and I try to think outside of the box.
Favorite guilty pleasure: Tabloid magazines. (Love ‘em and read way too many of them.)
Three things on my life list: Become a mom, cook a fabulous meal for someone special and get published in The New York Times.
If I could have a superpower, it would be: Mind reading.
Ladies I admire: Jeannette Walls, Martha Stewart, Michelle Obama, Anna Quindlen, Mary Lou Lord, Guinevere Turner, Christina Hendricks, Madonna, Virginia Postrel, Molly Crabapple, Samara O’Shea, Hollis Gillespie and Mary Pols.

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Take a Bite: Guilty Pleasure Foods

September 22, 2009 at 10:44 am , by

cookieAfter reading Lisa’s great post on guilty pleasure movies, I got to thinking about guilty pleasures of another sort — the foods we eat. Now we all know that having a nutritious and well-balanced diet is crucial for our health and well-being, but I believe it’s equally important to indulge every once (or twice) in a while, whether it’s scarfing down Doritos in the afternoon or treating yourself to cake when there’s nothing to celebrate.

Sometimes sneaking in a favorite snack or meal does wonders to perk up your day, even if you know deep down (but choose to ignore) how bad it is for you. My boss introduced me to a café around the corner here in our New York office that sells the warmest, gooiest, most decadent chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had — literally a piece of heaven in your mouth. They’re soft, freshly baked cookie bars that are the size and shape of brownies — giant chocolate chunks and all. I know how much havoc it would wreak on my tummy if I indulged in these cookies too often, but sometimes, during a long and busy day, they hit the spot and cheer me up more than a piece of celery ever could.

Now that you’re salivating (and before you go off to find some chocolate chip cookies of your own) tell me, what’s YOUR guilty pleasure food?

Photo via Brownie or Die

In Search of Sweet: Recipes for Diabetics

September 16, 2009 at 11:50 am , by

3825303348_f3da0e3740I’m not a doctor. I don’t even play one on TV. But when you write about health for a living you do get asked a lot of health questions. Which is why I find myself on a hunt for diabetic desserts. It would be the Jam Man—the person with the biggest sweet tooth in my family—who got chosen for this disease. The Carnivore, who could devour an entire Marcella Hazan roast lemon chicken if dieting would permit it, was not hit. Nor were Pasta Guy or the Chocolate Twins.

So far, various family members have tried making granulated Splenda versions of some of our favorite pies and cakes—it did a particularly nice job on apple crisp and made a tasty linzer torte, but doesn’t taste quite like sugar. It also made delicious, but rather fragile, peanut butter cookies. Haven’t tested the sugar blend or  brown sugar versions, but I’m already finding web advice that recommends adjusting baking times and ingredients when baking with some sweeteners.

3782467373_ea66d6f81c_tWith one glass of alcohol a day on the diet, we tried a fresh lemon whiskey sour with agave nectar (blue agave is the succulent used for tequila). One dietitian green-lighted the nectar for its low glycemic index, which makes it digest slowly. The American Diabetes Association puts agave on its list of sweetener options but there’s still a lot of controversy about how healthy it is, especially for diabetics, because it has a high fructose content. The light agave has a very natural taste so I’m hoping to use it more when I find out more about it.

I also converted the famous Weight Watchers pumpkin mousse recipe (this blog has the recipe I remember from my WW class about 10 years ago) by using frozen raspberries (a Jam Man favorite) food-processed with a little milk in place of canned pumpkin. It tasted pretty good, but was more gluey than I remembered the original mousse being. Note for next time: Try just 1 box of pudding mix and stir in some Greek yogurt.

Do you have any great diabetic or sugar-free recipes? Please share them in the comments—we really need them!

In the meantime, I’m getting Jam Man a subscription to Diabetic Living magazine, which is owned by our parent company—and a good family to join when diabetes strikes someone you love.

Jam photo by amiefedora. Agave photo by oonaghs_eye.