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Archive for the ‘In the Kitchen’ category

This week has been a short work week with Thanksgiving on Thursday.  I was off my normal Wednesday which was great for getting things ready for the holiday.  I had the pleasure of hosting my first Thanksgiving for my parents, my husband’s parents and sister, and my grandma.  There were 8 of us in total.

Here are some pictures of the table, appetizers and munchies, and of course the turkey!  I used Alton Brown’s method and brined it the night before cooking it.  It turned out very well–beautiful browned skin, great flavor, and juicy and moist meat.

My husband asked me what I thought he should wear and I had already decided on my outfit (duh!) so I picked out something that would complement mine.  He didn’t realize it at first but he should have known better.  We took this photo before everyone arrived to eat and it may very well become our Christmas card photo.  I also made sure to get a photo of all 8 of us before everyone fell asleep or left for the day.

Thanksgiving 2016 (9)

My husband and I both had to work on Friday after the holiday and I wore the very same outfit to work.  When my husband got out of the shower and saw my outfit he said, “Repeat!!”  I just laughed.

My outfit for Friday was my recreation of this pin, here.  I think I nailed it: plaid collared shirt, white cable knit sweater, distressed jeans, and tan booties.

Now that we have celebrated and enjoyed Thanksgiving I am in full-on Christmas mode.  I have been chomping at the bit to get my totes out of storage and see what I have for this year’s theme (blue and silver) and what I need to complete my Winter Wonderland.  I was also thinking about printing out my pictures for my Christmas cards and get a start on addressing those.  It usually takes me a few days to get them all done and get the addresses from a few family members that may have moved or I neglected to write down.

What about you?  Do you celebrate Christmas?  When do you start decorating?  Sound off in the comments below.


Summer Session started Monday of this week and that most certainly means that I am not teaching this semester.  I am trying to see it as a blessing in disguise and not get too hung up on it!  I’ve been trying to relish my loads of free time and have made a goal to try and do lots of things to really enjoy the break.  Since I am not teaching, I have been putting a lot of time and effort towards some of my other interests, namely cooking!

The difficulty here is that I am also trying to work out and eat healthy.  So, I spend a lot of time looking for “low-calorie, low-fat” versions of recipes.  And, I’ve had some doozies in the past!  I once used a recipe for LCLF lemon bars and they were the most horrible things ever!  But, you never know until you try, right?!

Monday morning I decided that I would make an angel food cake.  I had made angel food cupcakes a few weeks back and used them as the basis for a strawberry shortcake dessert.  But, this time I wanted to go full throttle and make an entire angel food cake.  Plus, we had a number of different items that I could serve with it—fresh strawberries, bananas, instant chocolate pudding, chocolate sauce, marshmallows, etc.  From the cupcakes that I made, I knew that angel food cake takes a lot of eggs and a lot of time.  Also, it can be very finicky!  But, I took on the challenge.  Oh, and the healthy part.

In our household, we are Alton Brown worshippers.  But, the problem with many of his recipes, IMHO, is that they require a lot of specific ingredients, time, and uni-taskers.  Therefore, although I may always look up a certain recipe of his, I don’t necessarily always follow it.  And this time was no different.  I started by looking at his angel food cake recipe, here.

This recipe, surprisingly, isn’t that “convuluted.”  It is pretty standard fare as far as angel food cake goes.  But, I don’t have cake flour or orange extract.  Plus, it wasn’t as healthy as I thought it could be.  The Food Network nutritional information says that this is 208 calories per serving (yields 10-12 servings.)  I did a quick internet search for “low fat low cal angel food cake”.  Then, I looked through my search results for a recipe that utilized ingredients that I had on hand.  Basically, no cake flour or other oddball ingredients.  Also, I was looking for something that was less than 130 calories per serving.  I found this recipe:

LFLC Angel Food Cake

– 1 1/2 cups Splenda
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1 cup white flour, sifted
– 12 egg whites
– 1/3 cup warm water
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Sift half the Splenda with the flour.
3. In a large bowl combine egg whites, vanilla extract, water and cream of tartar with an electric beater until combined.
4. Add the other half of the Splenda to the egg whites and beat until semi-stiff peaks form.
5. Add the sifted flour and Splenda to the egg whites, and gently fold in with a spatula. Make sure all the flour is incorporated.
6. Carefully pour batter into a cake pan of your choice. Bake for about 30 minutes until a skewer inserted come out clean. May require 5-10 minutes further.
7. Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before removing from the cake tin.
Makes 10-12 servings (info for 12)

Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 12
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 56.9

BINGO!  From my cupcake excursion a few weeks back, I knew that the egg whites should be at room temperature so I had already pulled my eggs out of the refrigerator while I looked for recipes.  Once I found one, I got to cracking my eggs.

In the picture on the left, you can see that I separated 12 eggs.  The container at the top is the whites and the one at the bottom is the yolks.  I saved them because I thought that I might be able to make something with them.  If you look closely, you will see that there are some small bits of yoke in my egg whites.  THIS IS VERY BAD!  I didn’t know how bad at the time, but it will prevent the yolks from whipping into a meringue state, which is what you want.  Be very careful when separating your eggs.  Also, try not to touch the egg whites with your hands because the oil from your hands will also prevent them from whipping up right.  In the center, you can see that I have started to whip my egg whites, vanilla extract, cream of tartar, and warm water.  On the right is the mixture after a few minutes of beating.

While the egg white mixture was whipping, I set about sifting my flour and Splenda. It is important that you sift the flour so that it is superfine and incorporates into the egg whites better. (Or, you could just use cake flour as recommended by Alton Brown.) Once the egg mixture forms medium-stiff peaks, I added some of the sifted flour and Splenda into the equation. Once that was just incorporated, I folded in the remaining flour with a spatula. Then, I poured the batter into a bundt pan and put it in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, I tested the cake and it was done. I pulled it out of the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool for an hour. Here is where I made another mistake! Apparently, angel food cake is notorious for deflating and sticking to the pan. In order to help prevent this, you should cool the cake UPSIDE DOWN! This will help to prevent it from weighing itself down and deflating. I did not do this. Therefore, my cake deflated some and got stuck in the pan. I pretty much had to rip it out of the pan.

Angel Food Cake 7

It may not be the tallest or prettiest Angel Food cake one has ever seen, but it tasted good.  We had it for dessert, and we made a S’more with it by adding two marshmallows and a few squares of Hershey chocolate and zapped it in the microwave for 30 seconds.  The S’more topping added 108 calories and since we had 2 servings, our dessert clocked in at 233 calories.  And if you ask me, it was 233 well spent calories!

Angel Food Cake is certainly something that I would try again—especially since I feel like I learned some helpful tips and tricks along the way.  But, I’m not sure if the next time that I made it I would use this LFLC recipe, or just go for all the guts and glory and make a traditional Angel Food Cake.  Only time will tell. . .

What do you think?  Are you feeling inspired to make Angel Food Cake?  Please leave a comment below.


Sunday, my BF and I were invited to a picnic. You could call it a Memorial Day picnic if you wanted, but it was just a small get-together at my Uncle and Aunt’s. It was a few of their close friends and family. We weren’t asked to bring anything, but we never like to show up anywhere empty handed. I had seen this picture floating around my Pinterest feed and it sparked my interest.

So, that’s what I decided to make to take to our picnic. A quick internet search turned up this recipe from Taste of Home. Luckily, we had everything on hand for this recipe, except for the almond extract— but we substituted vanilla extract. Also, we used liquid food coloring instead of gel. The only other change that we made was in the timeline.

After tinting the two pieces of dough red and green, you are supposed to let them chill in the refrigerator for two hours. We only had an hour to let them chill. Then, we rolled out the “white” dough into a rectangle and wrapped it around the red cylinder. We did the same with the green.

At this point, the recipe directions state to refrigerate overnight, but again we didn’t have that much time.  I think that we put the log back into the refrigerator for an hour or so.  Then, we took it out and sliced it into discs while we preheated the oven.  We didn’t have raisins or mini chocolate chips, but we did have regular sized semi-sweet chocolate chips.  So, we gave them a rough chop with a chef’s knife.

We placed the circular slices on the cookie sheet and pressed the chocolate chip pieces into them. We tried to keep in mind that we were going to cut the circles in half to form the watermelon slice shape and keep the chocolate chip pieces away from the cut line. Then, we baked them for 10 minutes in our oven. Once we took them out of the oven, we cut them in half immediately and then placed them onto a wire rack to cool. Some of the cookies came apart–the green or white separated from the other layers. But, nothing too major.

The cookies were a big hit and most people wanted to know how we made them. I think that if we had let the dough refrigerate longer the different layers of dough would have solidifed together more and the cookies wouldn’t have separated after baking. But, they looked how they were supposed to look and tasted good. They weren’t the best tasting sugar cookies, IMHO. I like a sugar cookie that is a bit sweeter, hence the name sugar cookie.

But, I would recommend these for any type of Summer party or get-together. They would also be something that kids could help with under adult supervision.