Interview with Iron Chef Cat Cora and Cookbook Giveaway!

The Chicago Gourmet held last weekend played host to many of Chicago’s famous chefs, including Rick Bayless and Jimmy Bannos, Sr. But the event also brought in other, more international chefs, including one Iron Chef – Cat Cora. During this event, I had the pleasure of chatting with Cat Cora about her latest book, how she gets her kids to eat new dishes, and about her new show on OWN – the Oprah Winfrey Network.

5 Minutes and 5 Questions with Iron Chef Cat Cora

1) When you’re not doing cooking shows and book tours, what’s a typical day like for you?

I get up with my kids (four boys under age 6), we eat breakfast together, get lunches ready for school, get everybody dressed, then wrangle everybody together to head to school. After that, I go to work in my home office. I also try to get in a workout, maybe a little yoga. Then we end up back at home and done with everything by 5 PM to eat dinner and spend some quality time together.

2) In your latest book, Cat Cora’s Classics With A Twist, you have a variety of flavor combinations and ethnic foods. How do you get your kids or kids in general to eat these ethnic foods and try different things? My kids don’t eat everything that I cook for them in this new book. There are some things that they’re just not ready for. It’s about getting them involved in meal planning and mealtimes, gearing the food toward them and actually getting them invested in the meal. If you get kids invested in the meal, they tend to eat more and eat more often, and they feel empowered because they can help make decisions about the meal. And this whole discussion with kids should be a 5-minute conversation not a two hour negotiation – give them two options and have them pick one.

3) How do you decide if/when a new recipe will be added to your restaurant menu?

You need to decide who your audience is first, which helps narrow things down. Then, you need to think about the style of restaurant you have and your concept. When we started the restaurant at Disney, we really had to look at things that were familiar to people. We couldn’t get too crazy or too out-of-the box because it is Disney. You get people from all over the world and there are a lot of different things that they like to eat. We’re about to open a sexy lounge with small plates at the Virgin America terminal at the San Francisco airport. That’s a whole different dynamic and a whole different audience.

4) If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?

I definitely know that I would want to perform. I would have definitey tried to go into acting of some kind. I also love to write, so maybe a novelist – and I can still do that, it’s in the future plans!

5) What’s on the horizon for Cat Cora?

I have a new show coming out in January 2011 on Oprah’s network – OWN (which stands for Oprah Winfrey Network). It’s an hour-long show, once a week. We can’t announce what it is or what the name is just yet, but it’s really about bringing families together about food and solving people’s dilemmas in the kitchen – very similar to an intervention show. I’m super excited about it.

Cookbook Giveaway

In keeping with the chef/cooking theme, I’m giving away a brand new book by another notable chef and author Jennifer Chandler. Her book Simply Suppers features homestyle comfort foods, such as potato soup and enchiladas, with a southern flair.

To enter the giveaway, you can either…

  1. Leave a comment on this post about who your favorite celebrity chef is and why OR
  2. Tweet/Retweet this post

You have until Tuesday, October 5 at 9 PM Eastern to enter. Good luck!

Apple Pie: 6 Simple Ingredients

More often than not, the simplest recipes result is the tastiest dishes. Last night, Scott made an apple pie with the apples we picked yesterday. He used 6 of the most basic ingredients….

  • apples
  • sugar
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • flour
  • prepared pie crust

So essentially he went from this…

To this…

In about 1.5 hours. Voila!

Chip and Dip Bowl Giveaway!

When I attended the Healthy Living Summit, I was fortunate enough to go on a tour of the Frito Lay plant in Wisconsin. I learned so much about Frito Lay chips and was quite impressed at all of the steps they are taking to make healthier and greener products.

Now, you all know I’m a chip addict. But I also love dips! I love dips of nearly every kind – bean dips, fruit dips, taco dips, veggie dips, chips dips, etc. However, I’m quite aware that dips often contain high amounts of calories, fat, sugar, and sodium. That’s why I was so glad the girls at Frito Lay sent me a fantastic dip recipe made out of plain Greek yogurt.  Take a look at the recipe – it’s so much healthier than most dips. Hint – it only has 45 calories per serving!

Greek Yogurt and Cucumber Dip

Serves: 8; Serving Size: ¼ cup


  • 1 English cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and seeded
  • 1 ½ cups nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Cumin to taste


  • Grate cucumber halves by hand or chop in a food processor until coarse, but not mushy. Place grated/chopped cucumber in a strainer and cover with a paper towel to squeeze out the excess juice. You may need to change the paper towel a few times.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, chives, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. Fold in the cucumber and season with salt and pepper. Add cumin to taste.
  • Refrigerate until chilled, about an hour.
  • Nutrition Information (per ¼ cup serving):

    45 calories, 5 g protein, 3 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 2 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 91 mg sodium

    The other day I was craving something crunchy and salty, so I promptly made this dip and paired it with some Frito Lay SunChips. Fantastic! The creamy, spicy dip was a perfect combo with my SunChips, although I probably ate more chips than the dip! But hey, they have 18g of whole grains per ounce!

    Frito Lay Giveaway

    As I mentioned last night, I will be doing more giveaways in the future. And guess what? I have another one for you right now! Frito Lay has graciously offered to give one of my readers a fabulous Crate and Barrel chip and dip bowl, with extra dip bowls. Plus, they are throwing in a bag of Lay’s, SunChips, and Tostitos Scoops!. And all of this just in time for Labor Day weekend! I sooo wish I could enter this giveaway myself! But because I can’t, I’m giving it to one of you.

    How to Enter

    All you have to do to enter is either:

    • Leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite Frito Lay product OR
    • Tweet/retweet this post on Twitter

    You must enter the giveaway by 9 PM Eastern on Wednesday, September 1, 2010. After that, I will pick a random entrant and post the winner on the my blog. Easy peasey, don’t ya think?

    Good Luck! Now, let’s get snacking!

    Spice Girl

    What’s an easy way to add flavor to a dish without adding calories or fat? Spices of course! Scott and I regularly cook with spices, herbs, and rubs. Although our spice drawer is far from being complete, I think it would stand to impress any Food Network Chef. From exotic curries to fragrant chili powder to cracked peppercorns, our spice drawer is quite a site and one of the best aspects of our kitchen.

    But our spice drawer didn’t start out this way. I remember a time when our spice drawer wasn’t even a spice rack. It was no more than a jar of garlic powder and cinnamon – those were rough times in the kitchen. But over the years, we’ve built a stock of many of our favorites like oregano, Italian seasoning, and cumin. In fact, we have so many herbs and spices that they can’t all fit in one large drawer – we keep the overflow in the cabinet!

    Aside from adding taste without calories, spices can also turn an ordinary meal into something extraordinary. Seriously, a full spice drawer can do wonders for a pound of meat, poultry, fish, pasta, or even tofu. Lemon pepper chicken – no problem! Spicy turkey chili – coming right up! When it comes to spices, the possibilities are endless.

    If you’re just building your spice drawer or would like to expand it, start with your basic spices and then build from there, depending on your tastes and favorite recipes. Good Cooking also provides a great guide to herbs and spices and their suggested uses. Go on, add a little spice to your life – your tastebuds will thank you for it!

    Hmm, I think if I had to be a Spice Girl – I’d be Chili Spice – what about you?

    The Bible of Berries

    For the past week, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with all of the wild mulberries and blackberries I’ve picked near my house. Yesterday morning, after an awesome yoga session, I added a heaping cup of blackberries and mulberries to a bowl of Kashi Go Lean Crunch (about 16 g of fiber total!), plus a handful of blueberries and strawberries. So yum! My kids were even asking for bites of my berry cereal bowl!

    Even after my cereal, I easily have a full cup of mulberries left. Ironically, about 2 weeks ago, I received a complimentary copy of The Berry Bible in the mail. Apparently, this book has been out for a few years but this is the 2010 version. The Berry Bible is just that – a bible for all things berry! It has the lowdown on all of the popular berries, like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc. But it also covers the more obscure berries like huckleberries, lingonberries, and mulberries!

    And the book tells you just about everything you need to know about berries, like when and how to pick them, how to wash and freeze them, recipes for making them into jam, pies, jellies, smoothies, etc. I only wish the book would have included pictures of the berries. I had to use the internet to find out what many of these berries look like. Overall, this book is definitely a keeper, especially if you eat berries as much as I do.

    So what did I decide to do with my mulberries? I don’t really have enough to make jam – you need a few cups to do that. So, aside from eating them on my cereal (as pictured above), oatmeal, and on ice cream, the book says that I can freeze them – and that’s what I plan to do with whatever is left today!

    10 Things You May Not Know About Mireille Guiliano

    Hello All! I am still so exhausted from yesterday! Running 7 miles then gardening for 5 hours really wiped me out!

    If you haven’t already heard, I’ve posted my article featuring the interview with author Mireille Guiliano. In 2005, she released her first book, French Women Don’t Get Fat. Now, five years later, she has just released her fourth book – The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook.

    To learn more about the new book as well as 10 Things You May Not Know About Mireille Guiliano, check out the article on Bistro Chic! See you all tomorrow…

    Tick Tock

    Hey All!

    I need to make this a quickie since I spent way too much time on my post for Bistro Chic. Check it out – it’s all about the personalities of the European Runner!

    Tonight I had an awesome dish that I adapted from a recipe I found online – Chicken Crescent Bundles

    These little pockets were so easy to make. And, once I added a bunch of sauteed veggies – like spinach, peppers, and carrots – they were fairly healthy too. Unfortunately, I was the ONLY one in the family who liked this dish. Why is it that when I cook something new, no one else likes it but me?

    We have a really busy weekend planned, between birthday parties (how can everyone be turning 5 at the same time?), haircuts, and running last-minute errands for our trip. I hope we get everything done – tick tock, tick tock!

    Have a great night everyone.

    Time To Make The Granola

    If you’re old enough to remember the old Dunkin Donuts commercial, you will get the reference in my title 😉 Hope this isn’t dating me – I was VERY young when I heard/saw this on television!

    So anyway, late last night, I got the urge to make a little homemade granola. I’ve never tried Mix My Granola or other mail-order brands because I’m a little skeptical about their convenience and cost-effectiveness for my budget (why would I want to get addicted to something that I have to wait for in the mail?) And, I usually don’t buy store-bought brands because they are typically loaded with sugar, fat (aka calories) and inevitably contain something that I don’t like (raisins).

    12.1 homemade granola 2

    That’s not to say that I will never try Mix My Granola (heard great things about it) or something similar, but all of these reasons made want to try making my own granola at home. And so the Running With Cake granola was born!

    Running With Cake- Sweet and Crunchy Granola

    • 1/3 cup light brown sugar (more or less depending how much sugar you want)
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1 tbsp either honey or maple syrup
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 2 cups plain oats (not the quick kind)
    • 1/2-3/4 cup of chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.)
    • Dried fruit (optional)

    Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Mix the first four ingredients (through the vanilla) in a microwave safe dish (I use a glass measuring cup) and microwave for about 1 minute or until sugar dissolves. Combine oats with nuts. Then combine dry ingredients with the warmed liquid mixture. Spread the oat mixture on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, 50-55 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately scrape the granola into a bowl. Add dried fruit and mix well. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 3 cups of granola.

    And so, you will start with this…

    12.1 Granola 1

    And end up with this!

    12.1 homemade granola 1

    12.1 homemade granola 3

    Totally yummo! It’s also super versatile – you can add just about any nuts or dried fruit that you want, and even omit the honey/maple syrup if you’re trying to watch calories. 

    Try it in yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, and on ice cream, you won’t regret it!

    Squeezing Pears and Roasting Potatoes

    Hi there!

    Today was an absolutely beautiful day in Chicago! When I headed out around 10 AM for my 5-mile run, it was already 52 degrees and sunny! I hope we have many more days like this throughout the fall/winter season. 

    After my run, I grabbed another LUNA bar to recharge…

    11.22 Luna Bar

    I do not eat LUNA bars or any granola/power bars for breakfast on a regular basis. Although they are very nutritious – full of protein and fiber – I really don’t feel like they fill me up enough at breakfast. But, like yesterday, today was another day of running a crazy amount of errands, so LUNA always comes in handy when you’re in a hurry to get out the door. 

    My day was full of shopping, which let me back to Target – yet again – to get Christmas tree lights. It never fails, no matter how careful we are with our lights, we always end up buying new ones because the old ones don’t work.

    I also stopped at Trader Joe’s. OMG, you would have thought they were giving turkeys away! I go to Trader Joe’s about once a week and I have NEVER seen it so busy. In fact, my regular grocery store, which I went to after TJ’s, was not 1/2 as busy as Trader Joe’s. It’s the holiday craziness starting already.

    I headed back home for lunch, which ended up being another yummy sandwich…

    11.22 salami sandwich

    But I also enjoyed one of the fresh pears I bought at the grocery store. I must have really been on my squeezing game because I picked a perfectly ripe pear and it was so juicy and delicious…

    11.22 Pears

    I even picked up a few more when I went back to the grocery store today. Hmm, I’m thinking a pear crisp might be in my near future…

    11.22 salami sandwich 2

    After picking up a few things at Harry and David and Barnes and Noble (I really should own stock in that store!), it was time to head home to put up the tree and lights…

    11.22 Santa Train 1

    I even put out one of my favorite Christmas decorations, the Santa Train, as I call it. This is by far the best impulse purchases I’ve ever made – and it was at Costco! It’s a beautiful and very detail 4-part wooden train filled with old-fashioned toys – that are real toys!

    11.22 Santa Train 2

    11.22 Santa Train 3

    That is one thing that I’ve come to learn about Costco – If you see something you really like, buy it, because it may not be there the next time you go.

    Scott was working most of the day trying to finish project before Thanksgiving. So, I volunteered to make us dinner – and it wasn’t just reservations or take-out!!

    11.22 Turkey burger

    I whipped up some burgers on our indoor grill – turkey for me and buffalo for Scott. I also made some awesome oven roasted potatoes. These were super easy to make. Here’s how:

    Easiest Oven-Roasted Potatoes

    • 4 medium red-skinned potatoes, washed and cut into cubes/chunks
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • Salt/pepper to taste.
    • Mix the oil with the potatoes in a bowl and add salt and pepper. Spread potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven that’s been preheated. Take out tray and flip potatoes over. Return to oven for 10 minutes. Broil for 3-5 minutes if needed – then enjoy! 

    For variety, I have added rosemary, Italian seasonings, and or parmesan cheese to the potatoes prior to cooking. It just gives them a little extra flavor.

      11.22 Oven roasted potatoes  

      Now,  I must be off. I have a ton of wrapping to do before Thanksgiving – when my side of the family exchanges our Christmas presents.

      Have a great night everyone!

    Another Reason to Eat Chocolate?

    Despite getting up at 5:40 AM, somehow I managed to not get to work until 9 AM. I am really despising traffic these days. I need to invest in some books on tape. Too bad Jenna’s book isn’t ready yet 😉

    Because I was up so early, it was still dark out and I had to wait for about 30 minutes before heading out to run. I did my typical 4-miler, although it was pretty fast. I am actually sore right now, but I’m not sure if that is from the run or from sitting in 2 hours of traffic!

    Being that it was so late, I ate a B-nana in the car…


    11.10 breakfast

    I really should NOT be taking photos (or eating for that matter) when I’m driving. My blogger alter ego is such a bad influence on the regular me.

    Work was another totally laid back day – sweet! I could really handle this lifestyle for the next month or so – just get me to Christmas baby! Lunch ended up being Rachel Ray leftovers…

    11.10 lunch1

    Just look at those little dumpling’s, aka gnocchi, they’re showing off for my new camera…

    11.10 lunch2

    Later in the PM I had a snack attack and noticed some freebie granola bars in the staff lounge – bonus! Nothing like a healthy and free snack…

    11.10 snack

    Surprisingly, we have not had our usual obscene amount of food yesterday and today. Ahh, it’s the calm before the holiday food storm.

    Scott’s teaching tonight so I had to fend for myself. Why is it that when I have to cook for myself, I end up eating leftovers or a sandwich?

    11.10 dinner1

    But one thing is for sure, I do eat less when he’s not around. Boys are bad influences on girls in the eating department – for the most part anyway. I wish I could do the reverse and inspire him to eat healthier – or at least smaller portions. I’m just saying it like it is.

    11.10 dinner2

    News of the Day…

    This just in – a new study from Spain reports that chocolate can help prevent hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis) which is a precursor to heart disease. Not that I actually need another reason to eat chocolate, but I’m happy to hear that it does the body good! Now, if they could just find that chocolate helps you make more money and get a better night’s sleep, then I’d be all set!

    I celebrated this new-found chocolate wisdom with, what else?

    11.10 cookie

    A few more of my oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that I made last night.

    I need to get some sleep tonight, so here’s to a wonderful and restful night to all of you!