30 November 2008

25 cookies and candies for christmas

every christmas, I make cookies and candies, just like my mom always did when I was growing up. I have very fond memories of my mother and grandmother (along with my father's help) cooking treats each december. there are some favorites that I cook every year and some new ones that I add. below is the list of what I am going to cook this year. I will share the recipes with you as well in future blog posts.

  1. chewy coconut pinwheels
  2. ginger snaps
  3. brown family sugar cookies
  4. lime meltaways
  5. maraschino cherry squares *
  6. holiday biscotti
  7. honey cardamom snowflakes *
  8. candy cane cookies
  9. coconut sables *
  10. pecan tassies
  11. chocolate hazelnut cookies *
  12. chocolate fantasy fudge
  13. peanut butter and nutella sandwich cookies *
  14. chocolate pretzels
  15. peppermint macaroons *
  16. snowball cookies
  17. boston cream candy *
  18. apricot rugula
  19. lebkuchen *
  20. chocolate swirl peanut butter fudge
  21. macadamia double decker brownies *
  22. texas trash
  23. peanut brittle
  24. white chocolate party mix
  25. divinity
  26. chocolate hazelnut wedding cookies * -- for cookie exchange
* new recipe this year

29 November 2008

artichoke casserole

this did not go over really good with my family.  don't get me wrong, they liked it, they just didn't lick the bowls clean.  I think I might try adding some cream cheese next time.

1 ½ cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
4 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
4 ounces romano, grated
6 ounces blue cheese
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 garlic cloves, minced (2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
freshly ground pepper
3 packages (9 ounces each) frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and drained
  1. preheat oven to 325.  combine breadcrumbs, parsley, cheeses, Italian seasoning, garlic cloves and salt in a medium bowl and season with pepper.
  2. brush oil inside two 4-cup, 9 ½ inch ceramic baking dishes.  divide artichicke hearts between dishes, and spread into a single layer. sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over artichokes, pushing it into cracks between hearts. tap bottom of dishes on counter to settle breadcrumb mixture.
  3. cover dishes with parchment, then foil, and bake for 30 minutes. increase temperature to 375 degrees. uncover, and bake until breadcrumbs are golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. serve immediately.

28 November 2008

peach dressing

this is a dresssing recipe because it is made in a separate dish and not cooked in a turkey.  feel free to cook it as stuffing as well.

1 loaf bread (I use challah, but any bread will work), crust on, torn into approximately 1-inch cubes (about 9 cups)
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
2 medium onions, cut into ¼ inch dice
4 celery stalks, cut into ¼ inch dice
4 teaspoons minced garlic
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1 can (29 ounces) clingstone peach halves in heavy syrup, drained, syrup reserved, ½ the peaches cut into pieces if desired
½ cup thawed frozen orange juice concentrate
½ cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
  1. arrange bread in a single layer on a baking sheet, and let stand, uncovered, at room temperature overnight.
  2. preheat oven to 350 degrees. melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  add onions, celery, and garlic, and season with salt and pepper.  cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.  stir in herbs, and cook for 2 minutes. transfer to a large bowl.  add bread, and toss to combine.
  3. whisk peach syrup into orange juice concentrate, and add to bread mixture with peaches.
  4. stir in stock, spoon into a buttered 9 by 13 inch baking dish, and bake at 375 degrees. cover with foil, and bake for 25 minutes.  uncover, and bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. 

26 November 2008

captian crunch chicken

as promised in my 24 hours of great eating post, here is my captain crunch chicken recipe.  my brother-in-law also makes this with fish and says it is wonderful!

this is the closest we have come to duplicating the captain crunch chicken at jax grill in houston(it’s great, go if you ever get the chance).  this recipe is some work, but well worth it!!

3½ cups captain crunch (crushed)
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 pounds chicken breast (either make the whole breasts and bake them or cut them into strips and pan fry)
  1. beat egg with milk in a shallow dish (I use a pie dish) and set aside.
  2. stir together the flour, sugar, onion and garlic powders, and black pepper in a shallow dish and set aside.
  3. place the crushed cereal in a gallon ziploc freezer bag.
  4. dip the chicken pieces into the seasoned flour.  move around to coat well, then shake off the excess flour.
  5. dip into the egg wash, coating well, then place them in the ziploc bag with the crushed cereal.
  6. shake the chicken strips in the ziploc bag to coat well.
  7. heat oil in a large heavy skillet to 325. drop coated chicken tenders carefully into the hot oil and cook until golden brown and fully cooked, 3 to 5 minutes depending on size.
  8. drain and serve immediately with honey mustard sauce.
  9. when I baked mine instead of frying I made them breasts and baked at 325 for one hour.  it's better when deep fried, but I like to cut out the fat!

honey mustard sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
½ teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
combine all ingredients and mix well.

25 November 2008

acorn recipe for my #gno friend

one of the gals on #gno last night, asked for a recipe for buckeyes. this is my grandmother's recipe for what we call acorns.


growing up, these were one of my favorite christmas treats (and they still are). these are a little bit of trouble to make, but they are definitely worth it.

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter
2 3/4 cup powdered sugar
6 oz chocolate chips
1/8 bar paraffin

1. in a large mixing bowl, combine peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar.
2. using a wooden spoon, mix until smooth and well blended.
3. shape 1 slightly rounded teaspoon into a ball.
4. refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Next day:
5. in a microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate and paraffin.
6. microwave on high, stirring occasionally, until chocolate and paraffin are melted.
7. using a fork, dip cold “acorns” into chocolate mixture just until two-thirds covered.
8. place on waxed paper to set.
9. when chocolate coating is firm, store, covered in refrigerator.

24 November 2008

my mother's wonderful beignets

as I said in my post on 24 hours of great eating, these beignets are second best only to cafe du mondes. this recipe is really good and they come together quickly, since you use rapid rise yeast.

1/8 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups bread flour
1 package yeast, rapid rise
1 tablespoon + 1/2 cup milk, warmed
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, softened
oil for deep fat frying
confectioners sugar

  1. mix sugar, salt, bread flour, and yeast together.
  2. warm milk to 120 to 130 degrees.
  3. beat egg and milk into flour mixture, along with butter.
  4. allow to rise for 20 minutes. knead dough gently for 2 turns.
  5. roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness.
  6. cut dough into rectangles (a pizza cutter works best).
  7. allow to rise for another 25 minutes.
  8. preheat your oil to 350.
  9. fry a few at a time, turning once when the bottom side has browned. drain on paper towels, then dust gently with confectioner's sugar.

23 November 2008

24 hours of great eating

as I have said before, some days the food gods just smile on me, and the past 24 hours have been one of those times.  

on the way back from the family reunion we stopped for dessert at ooh la la in katy. ed, my youngest has really enjoyed telling EVERYONE that we went to OOH LA LA!  I got marble cheesecake that was really good. mike got red velvet cake that he said was also excellent.  ed raved on his cupcake, but he really only ate the icing.

since we were in katy already, we decided to go to swampy's for dinner.  swampy's is a cajun seafood restaurant that has really good food in a laid back atmosphere.  I had a wonderful drink that was a mix of a margarita and a hurricane (I can't remember the name of it, but it was good!) and fried shrimp.  mike had a cajun bloody mary to drink that was seriously spicy.  mike ordered shrimp half and half, which is shrimp etouffe and fried shrimp.  as a side, he got fried cheese grits.  I tried them, and let me tell you, they were really good. you know I love anything fried, especially with cheese!

for breakfast, my mother made her wonderful beignets, or "square doughnuts," as my boys call them.  as I have said previously, we have not had much luck making beignets. so, I got my mom's recipe, and now my fry daddy (michael) can make beignets for me anytime.  they are not as good as cafe du mondes, but they are a very close second!  I will share the recipe with you in a future post.

my favorite restaurant in houston is jax grill in the heights.  we went there for lunch on our way back to waco.  everything that I have ever tried at jax has been wonderful.  although, truth be told, I do not vary much from my standard captain crunch chicken.  I will share my recipe for this in a future post as well, but I have to admit that mine is not as good as jax's.  there is just something better about eating at jax, even the fountain coke tastes better there to me than anywhere else.

we stopped to do some shopping in college station on our way home, so we had wings at the gas station for dinner in college station.  yes, for those of you that follow me on twitter, that is twice in one weekend that I had wings at the gas station.  many of you will not be surprised by that.  one of the things that mike has taught me as a fellow foodie is that sometimes the best food is in the hole in the wall places.  that's why we love diners, drive-ins, and dives.  actually the wings 'n more in the gas station that we stop at is part of a chain, and all the other locations are actual restaurants.  for that matter, this wings location is moving and will be in an actual restaurant the next time we go through college station.  we just like stopping at the gas station one because it is quick and easy to get in and out.  did I mention, the food is really good!!

22 November 2008

my mother's pecan pie

my mom made her "famous" pecan pie for the reunion today.  as you can see from the picture, she has much more "Martha Stewart" in her than me (my food may not always be pretty, but it is always good). this is her recipe.

1 8-inch unbaked pie shell
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons flour
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup dark karo
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup pecan pieces
1 cup pecan halves
  1. preheat oven to 325
  2. mix sugars and flour in a small bowl
  3. brown butter on the stovetop over low heat and let cool
  4. beat eggs in a large bowl
  5. stir in cooled brown butter and sugar-flour mixture, until well combined
  6. add in vanilla, karo, maple syrup, and lemon juice and beat well
  7. stir in pecan pieces and pour into pie shell
  8. top with pecan halves
  9. bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until firm to touch (after about 20 minutes of baking, you will need to cover the rim of the pie shell with foil)

21 November 2008

zucchini fries

as promised, here is my recipe for zucchini fries. not only do mike and I like them, but the boys eat them up as well. I usually serve them with some horseradish mixed with mayo or sour cream as a dip

1 medium zucchini (6 oz), trimmed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon shredded parmesan, plus more to top
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ cup olive oil
  1. halve zucchini crosswise, then cut each half lengthwise into 1/8-inch-wide slices and cut slices lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick strips. toss with salt in a large medium-mesh sieve set over a bowl and drain 30 minutes. squeeze handfuls of zucchini to remove moisture, then roll up in a triple layer of paper towels and squeeze to remove remaining moisture.
  2. place garlic salt, shredded parmesan, and flour in a zip-lock bag and shake to combine. add zucchini to zip-lock bag and shake to coat.
  3. heat oil in frying pan and add zucchini, turning occasionally with a slotted spoon, until zucchini is golden, 5 to 6 minutes.
  4. transfer zucchini to paper towels to drain and top with additional parmesan. serve immediately.

20 November 2008

asparagus and egg "crepe" salad

for all of you who asked for the recipe for mike's salad tonight, here it is.

I saw Jamie Oliver make a salad with egg "crepes" on his show the other day, so I decided to give it a try tonight. this recipe is loosely adapted from his. I ended up making the best salad I have ever eaten. As I wrote on twitter and facebook, I licked the plate. people asked what salad could be so good?

these measures are for one serving.

mixed greens
4 large asparagus stalks, cut into 2 inch pieces.
olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 or 2 eggs
1-2 tbsp water
1tsp dijon mustard
juice of 1/2 small lemon
2tsp sugar
shredded parmesan
  1. 1-2 T olive oil in small nonstick skillet. Add garlic before turning on heat.
  2. Turn heat up to med hi. once oil is hot and garlic is fragrant, add asparagus pieces, season with salt and pepper, and saute until slightly tender, 3-5 minutes. covering skillet will help asparagus to steam. remove asparagus and garlic from pan and set aside.
  3. wipe pan with paper towel, leaving a small amount of oil in the pan. keep oiled paper towel.

Egg Crepes:
  1. beat egg(s), adding 1T of water per egg used. season the egg mixture with salt and pepper.
  2. pour just enough egg into hot skillet to coat the bottom, turning the skillet to get uniform coverage.
  3. cook egg until set and it starts to form bubbles. do not flip or stir the egg in the pan.
  4. once the egg is cooked through, turn skillet over above cutting board and allow crepe to fall out of pan.
  5. re-oil pan with paper towel. continue to make crepes until all egg mixture is used up (2-3 crepes per egg if small skillet is used).
  1. stack crepes on top of each other. roll crepes up together and slice across the crepes to make strips about 1" wide.
  2. toss crepe strips with mixed greens and asparagus, dress with dijon dressing and top with shredded parmesean cheese.

Dijon dressing:
  1. whisk together dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
  2. while whisking, drizzle in olive oil until dressing reaches desired consistency.
  3. add sugar to taste and whisk until dissolved.

19 November 2008

food porn

wikipedia defines a foodie as "Foodie is an informal term for a particular class of aficionado of food and drink. The word was coined in 1981 by Paul Levy and Ann Barr, who used it in the title of their 1984 book The Official Foodie Handbook."

for those of you who know michael and I, you know that we are big foodies.  last week, I was in urban outfitters and I saw this book called porn for women that had things like pictures of men vacuming and bringing breakfast in bed.  this got me thinking about the things that I see that are like porn to us because we are foodies, so here is what I came up with:

1. watching them make crepes at jean phillipe in las vegas
2. watching bread rise
3. a bowl of my chicken matzo ball soup
4. hot biscuits just out of the oven, brushing melted butter over the top
5. pork ribs or pork shoulder when you unwrap it off the grill
6. chicken wings basted with sauce on the grill, with flames flaring up to scorch them
7. pouring the icing on mexican chocolate cake
8. slicing into a prime rib roast
9. spooning out divinity at christmas
10. the first spoonful of corn casserole

18 November 2008

apple waldorf salad

2 large or 4 small apples (any variety, I usually use fuji)
3 T apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup walnuts (or pecans)
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. chop the apples and toss them with the apple cider vinegar immediately to prevent browning
  2. whisk together the mayonnaise, milk, and sugar in a bowl with a lid
  3. stir in the walnuts and add salt and white pepper to taste
  4. cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

17 November 2008

monkey bread – parker house style

this is another one of my favorites from my childhood. I have fond memories of having monkey bread at the neiman's cafe with my mother. this recipe is a little different, but it is still really good! if there is any bread leftover, it makes great sandwiches.

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon active dry yeast (1 1/2 packages)
1 cup warm milk
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 Sticks) unsalted butter, melted
plus additional butter for dipping the bread
3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  1. butter a 12 X 9” rimmed baking sheet.
  2. place the yeast, milk, and a pinch of the sugar in to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (alternatively, the dough can be mixed by hand in a large bowl). let stand for about 5 minutes, until the yeast is dissolved.
  3. add the remaining sugar, the salt, and 1/2 cup of the melted butter. stir in the flour top make a soft dough.
  4. transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, turn the dough to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. let rise in a warm place for about I hour; or until doubled in volume.
  5. punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. divide the dough into two equal pieces.
  6. using a rolling pin, roll out one piece into a 12 X 10 inch rectangle, keeping the second piece covered with a towel. repeat with remaining dough.
  7. refrigerate both pieces of dough until well chilled, about 30 minutes.
  8. place the remaining 1/2 cup melted butter in a shallow bowl. cut one piece of chilled dough lengthwise into five 2” strips. cut each strip into three 4” long rectangles.
  9. with the short side facing you, brush the top half of one rectangle with some melted butter and fold over, about one-third of the way. transfer to the prepared pan folded side down.
  10. repeat with the remaining rectangles, arranging in pan so they overlap slightly. repeat with the remaining dough.
  11. preheat oven to 400
  12. let rise in a warm place, covered with a damp towel, for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled in volume.
  13. brush melted butter over top of each roll. bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. brush the top again with any leftover butter.

16 November 2008

sweet potato casserole with praline topping

I was never a big fan of sweet potato casserole until this recipe. this the only way I will eat sweet potatoes.

1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup coconut
1/4 cup stick margarine, melted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cans sweet potatoes or yams, drained
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg white
1 (5-ounce) can fat-free evaporated milk
Cooking spray

  1. preheat oven to 350°
  2. combine flour, brown sugar, pecans, coconut, margarine, and cinnamon in a small bowl, stirring to form a streusel and set aside
  3. mash potatoes in a large bowl and stir in 1 cup streusel, granulated sugar, vanilla, egg white, and milk
  4. spoon into a 2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray; top with remaining streusel
  5. bake at 350° for 45 minutes

15 November 2008

thanksgiving roast turkey recipe

when I started hosting thanksgiving at my house, we had dishes other than the traditional turkey and side dishes (i.e. fried shrimp, fajitas, etc). but after much complaining by my little sister, I decided to start cooking a traditional thanksgiving dinner the last few years. the main reason that I did not want to do traditional thanksgiving dishes is that by the time it's actually thanksgiving, we are really burned out on turkey. I have been tweaking this recipe and I really like it. give it a try, it rocks!!

1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1/2 tablespoon candied ginger
1 gallon iced water

For the aromatics:
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 serrano chile, coarsely chopped
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Canola oil

the night before:

1. combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil
2. stir to dissolve, then remove from heat and cool to room temperature
3. refrigerate until thoroughly chilled
4. combine the brine and ice water in a clean cooler (that can hold at least 5-gallons of liquid). place the turkey breast side down in brine and cover for at least 6 hours, turning the turkey over once, half way through brining

when you are ready to cook:

1. when you are ready to roast, heat oven to 500 degrees. combine the apple, onion, vinegar, sugar, and cinnamon stick in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes
2. remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. discard brine
3. place bird on roasting rack inside wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. add steeped aromatics to cavity along with the chopped serrano chile, rosemary, and sage. tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally with canola oil and season with salt and pepper
4. roast on lowest rack of the oven at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes. remove from oven and turn oven down to 350 degrees
5. cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil, return to the oven and roast for an additional 1 1/2 to 2 hours until a probe thermometer inserted into thickest part of the breast reaches 160 degrees
6. let turkey rest, loosely covered for at least 15 minutes before carving

14 November 2008

my thanksgiving menu

for a couple of years now, I have been hosting thanksgiving at my house. tuesday night's gno and the new issue of martha stewart living have gotten me in the thanksgiving mood, so here is my menu for thanksgiving. I will share the recipes with you over the next few days

roasted turkey
peach stuffing (this is a new recipe, so I probably won't post it until after I try it out on thanksgiving)
sweet potato casserole
some sort of artichoke casserole (I probally won't post it until after I try it out on thanksgiving)
monkey bread (parker house style)
apple waldorf salad

13 November 2008

12 November 2008

the end is here -- eating in vegas, day 5

I think that there is a gelato shop on every corner in vegas, but we never got around to having any. so, this morning when I went down with michael for breakfast at cafe gelato in the hotel, I decided to have some strawberry gelato for breakfast (those of you who know me, know that ice cream for breakfast is not a rare thing). I also got chocolate croissant thinking that I would eat it for a mid morning snack (mike ended up eating it on the plane this afternoon). mike got a slice
quiche lorraine and he said it was very good; light and fluffy.

since our flight today left at 3:20, we decided to get to the airport early and just eat lunch at the airport. bad idea!! the layout of the vegas airport is really weird and there were not a lot of options by our gate. we decided on this pub for drinks and to split a sandwich. I wanted a strawberry daiquiri and a turkey sandwich, both of which they were out of. so, I had a pretty decent margarita on the rocks and we split and not very good ham sandwich. luckily, I had some salt and vinegar chips in my bag, so it wasn't an entirely wasted meal.

now we are on the road back to waco, mike just stopped and got me a coke and fried apple pie from whatburger (I'm so glad to be back in texas!!), so all in all, it wasn't an awful food day, but no where near as good as the last few days have been.

11 November 2008

we chose wisely -- eating in Vegas, day 4

I walked over to paris this morning for breakfast (I just think it's so cool to say that) and I got a chocolate croissant and a coke and ate them back at the bellagio while I enjoyed my last few hours of internet. the croissant was really good; flaky and sweet.

before I talk about our lunch, I should tell you this; michael is a much more adventuresome eater than I am. for lunch, we had decided on going to noodles in the bellagio. when I was walking back from paris, I noticed trader vics at the miracle mile shops. after looking at trader vics menu, I decided that I would rather go there (noodles was just a little to adventuresome for my taste).

I started off my lunch at trader vics with a bahia cocktail (light rum with coconut and pineapple juice). it was really good, but very strong. to eat, I had the coconut chicken with pineapple sauce. coconut chicken is one of my favorite dishes (once I saw that on the menu at trader vics, I knew this was were I wanted to go), and this one was really good. not as good as the coconut chicken at jd's art cafe (a local restaurant in waco that closed down a few years ago, and I still miss it), but it was a close second. michael had wok hay shu which was a stir-fry of asian veggies with tofu and served with rice. he said it was really good and he would definitely eat here again, which means I made a good choice on lunch, yeah me!

we wanted to eat a nice steak dinner one night while we were in vegas and after looking at the menus for all the steakhouses that we were recommended, we settled on the steakhouse at treasure island (they had an interactive touch screen menu outside the restaurant and we just thought that was too cool, we are easily amused). we made reservations, but once we got there for dinner, we realized we didn't really need them. they weren't crowded, but it was early on a tuesday night. I decided not to read too much into it. they started off the meal by serving us their "world-famous" loaded potato rolls, which did not do much for me. mike and I split their endive salad which was really good, with blue cheese, candied walnuts, and bacon slabs. we were BIG fans of the large pieces of bacon. we decided on the filet mingon with hollandaise horseradish sauce and I got macaroni and cheese and michael got grilled asparagus. the steak was a little overdone for mike's taste (which meant it was about perfect for my taste), but the hollandaise horseradish had nice texture and taste. the sides were not that great, but they weren't really bad either, they were just kind of average. I think that we have gotten spoiled with 135prime (a great steakhouse here in waco).

we went back to jean phillipe's for dessert again tonight, yes, it was that good. we even had the same crepes as last night. would it be obsessive for me to go there again for breakfast in the morning?

update for all my #gno friends

I have not posted any of my holiday recipes here yet, but starting on december 1st, I will be posting my recipes for my 25 christmas sweets. stay tuned!!

10 November 2008

does it get any better than this? -- eating in Vegas, day 3

a few weeks back, we saw a show about vegas eating on the food network and they showcased the buffets at the belliago. since michael is such a big breakfast fan, we decided to have the breakfast buffet at belliago this morning. it was wonderful and overwhelming all at the same time. the food was all very fresh and I liked it because it gave me a chance to try some new things without being tied down to one item for my whole meal. our favorites by far were the eggs benedict and eggs florentine. I have no idea how they keep their hollandaise sauce so smooth, but it was great.

since we had such a big and late breakfast, we were going to skip lunch, but then michael had a long break in the early afternoon, so he brought me sandwich sliders from café gelato at belliago out to the pool for lunch. on the tray was a roast beef sandwich with horseradish, a chicken sandwich with chiplote mayo, a ham sandwich with sweet mustard, and a sampling of pickled veggies. the sandwiches were great and really fresh. I didn't try the pickled veggies, but mike said they were really good.

for dinner that night, we went to margaritaville. while we were waiting for our table, we had just their standard margarita and it was really good (in fact, we each got one more as we left for roadies). once we were seated, michael got some blue crab and corn chowder and I got a small salad. mike was very impressed with the flavor of the chowder. we split coconut shrimp for dinner and it came with mashed potatoes and steamed veggies. I had never thought of putting mashed potatoes with fried shrimp, but they complemented each other nicely.

once we made it back to the bellagio, we decided to check out jean phillipe's for dessert. we had been there the last time we were in vegas just to see the chocolate waterfall, but we wanted to go back to sample some of their treats. we walked around looking at all the had to offer, but nothing really called to us until we saw that they had dessert crepes that they were making right before our eyes. michael settled on a nutella crepe and I went for a bananas foster crepe. we took them back up to our room and devoured them. they were everything we hoped they would be, the crepes were light and crispy and the fillings were delicious with just the right amount of whipped cream to add a touch of sweetness. hopefully I will get a chance to try more before we leave vegas.

09 November 2008

making all my food dreams come true -- eating in Vegas, day 2

last time we were in vegas, we had breakfast at this wonderful cafe at the wynn. so, for our first morning in Vegas we were ready to go back. before I tell you about what we ate, I have to tell you this. there are two things that I love most about being married to a fellow foodie; one is that we both think the best part about traveling is where we get to eat, the other is that we are both always willing to break a couple of food rules.

when we finally got to the terrace pointe cafe at the wynn, it was about 10:30 am (remember, I am not a morning person, even for good food). the first thing that I noticed was that they had potato chips covered in blue cheese fondue on their lunch appetizer menu, we ordered those immediately. they were really good, the potato chips were crisp and the blue cheese fondue was perfect, we will definitely be getting those again the next time we are out here. for breakfast, I had the waffles with strawberries and mike had the corned beef hash. the waffle was amazing (trust me, there is a difference between good waffles and these) and mike said the corned beef hash was the best he had ever tasted and the hollandaise on top was rich and really good.

after our trip to the auto collection museum, we went to the neiman marcus cafe for lunch. neimans has really influenced they way I cook and I was so excited that mike was going to get to try their food. but when I got there, I felt like a parent whose child is misbehaving, the service was mediocre at best, they were out of hamburgers (which was the first thing we ordered), and then when we asked about getting some chicken broth, we were told "it's not really good, so we don't want to serve it". that being said, the food that we did get was really good. I got a south coast to drink (see picture) which is midori, malibu, and peach schnapps with orange and pineapple juice and yes, it was as good as it looked. to eat, we split the mezze sampler (mike's been real into mediterranean cooking lately) with hummus, tabbouleh, marinated olives and pickles, tzatziki, chicken skewers with couscous, and pita wedges. it all had really great flavor.

we made reservations for mesa grill at caesars for dinner and when we got there, we were told that they were running about 45 minutes behind (that always ticks me off). once we finally got seated and looked at the menu, it looked like it was going to be worth the wait. I decided on the gala apple salad (apples, spinach, blue cheese, pecans and a spicy vinaigrette) and a double baked potato. mike got the barbecued duck blue corn pancake and the chorizo-goat cheese tamale with a prickly pear margarita to drink. the food was all excellent, my only complaint is that I would have liked a little more spinach in my salad.

after all that we are stuffed and heading to bed without dessert. it must have been a good food day for us to miss dessert!

08 November 2008

sometimes the food gods smile on me -- eating in Vegas, day 1

some people plan out what they want to see when they travel, but we plan out where we want to eat. so expect some great posts these next few days. here is what we had today:

driving to the airport, we stopped at geriks in west (a small czech community just north of waco). we have not had good luck lately at the kolache bakery we usually go to in west, so we decided to try geriks (it was recommended to me by a co-worker who lives in west). they had a crowd already at about 7 am (which is always a good sign). I was very glad to see their large variety of kolaches and everything looked very good. mike and I both got sausage kolaches and while they weren't the best we have ever had, they were the best we've found in west. I also had an apricot roll which was out of this world. so, all in all, a good stop and we will definitely be stopping there again.

we got to the bellagio and realized that it was about 3 pm texas time and we had not really had anything to eat since breakfast from geriks. we wanted something quick to eat before we headed out to see the sites. we decided to try snacks, one of the restaurants here in the bellagio, and I am really glad we did. we split a cheeseburger and cheese fries and the were both really good. we may have just been really hungry, but the food was amazing!

after lunch and unpacking, we headed out to the forum shops for some shopping. we decided on planet hollywood for dinner (mike had never eaten there and he NEEDED to try their captain crunch chicken), since we had a late dinner, we decided to just get a couple of appetizers and drinks. I had already decided on the captain crunch chicken, but to my surprise, I also saw zucchini chips on their appetizer menu. the captain crunch chicken was not as good as I remembered (jax's in houston is still better) and the dipping sauce that came with it was not sweet enough for me, but, the zucchini chips made up for all of that, they were amazing. they were thinly sliced and fried and served with a lemon aioli. the only way the zucchini chips could have been better was if they had parmesan on them and a horseradish dipping sauce. but for a meal of two of my favorite things that I didn't have to cook, dinner was really great!

once we got back from our shopping, we treated ourselves to the chocolate treats that we got from ethels in the las vegas airport. I had two chocolate covered strawberries and they were really good, my only complaint is that the chocolate was too soft for my taste, but they had great flavor.

well, that's just day one, keep checking back, like I said, we have some great meals planned out while we are here!!

07 November 2008

ultimate comfort food -- fried chicken with rice and gravy

to me, the ultimate comfort food is fried chicken with rice and gravy. this is probably the dish that I remember my mom making the most when I was growing up. when my parents got married, they had differing views on the correct side dish to serve with fried chicken. both of my grandfathers were rice farmers, but they felt very differently about eating rice. my mom's father did not want to see or eat rice when he came in from the fields, but my dad's father, wanted my grandmother to use rice in everything she could. well, you can tell who won that argument. comment and let me know if you want me to post the recipe, I just don't have time tonight.

06 November 2008

cooking on the web

although I am new this whole blogging world, I tend to jump into most things with both feet, so I entered this blog to be featured in the 30 days of food and today my blog was featured there. how cool is that?

so that got me thinking about how the web influences the way I cook:

one of my favorite things is watching food network on the weekends because if they are cooking something that looks good, I can just got to their website and get the recipe and make it that same day. to me, that's just really cool (I know, I'm easily impressed).

there are also tons of other food related websites out there from cooking magazine websites to dietary specific cooking websites to sites for food companies to give you ideas of how to cook with their products. the volume of it overwhelms me sometimes, but I am almost always able to find the recipe for anything that I want to cook.

lastly, there is the blogs and social media. I have found so many great food blogs out there (not to mention mine is the greatest ever) and I have meet so many other foodies through twitter and facebook. I still find it amazing some days that I am exchanging recipes and cooking ideas with people not only all across the us, but in other countries as well.

05 November 2008

sangria for my #gno friends

ok, as promised to all my twittermom friends on girls night out (#gno) last night, here is my sangria recipe

I am not a big wine drinker (I need it to be really sweet), but I have found that I am a BIG fan of sangria. I have played around with this recipe and made it some different ways, but the recipe below is by far my favorite. feel free to change the fruit and wine to whatever your favorite is. also, one word of caution, when you get to the fruit on the bottom of the cup, eating it is very addictive and after sitting in all that alcohol, it is really potent stuff. enjoy!!

1 pineapple peeled and halved lengthwise, and cored

4 ripe but firm plums, pitted and cut into wedges

1 tablespoon superfine sugar, or more if needed

3 ounces cointreau

3 ounces brandy

1 bottle chilled fruity red wine

1 1/3 cup pineapple juice

1 cup sparkling water or seltzer

  1. cut half of the pineapple into ¾” thick spears and the other half into 1” chunks.
  2. transfer all the pineapple to a pitcher and add the plums. sprinkle with the sugar and stir to combine.
  3. add cointreau and brandy and let set for at least 1 hour at room temperature (or up to 8 hours in the fridge).
  4. stir in the wine, pineapple juice, and sparkling water.
  5. sweeten with more sugar if desired.

04 November 2008

current food obessions

so, for those of you who do not know me well, I am very obsessive, especially about my food and cooking. below is the list of my current food and cooking obsessions, hope you enjoy the list.

  1. talenti sorbet -- this stuff is out of this world!! here in waco I have only been able to find it at HEB, but those of you in larger cities probably have more options to get it. it is italian sorbet and it is to die for, we have tried quite a few of the flavors, but my favorite is sonoma strawberry. I can talk myself into it because a pint of it is about 1/3 the calories of a pint of blue bell ice cream, unfortunately its also about three times the cost of bluebell as well.
  2. diners, drive ins, and dives -- I am a food network junkie and mike got me hooked on this show. there is really not much else to say, if you've never watched it, you should give it a try.
  3. what about cupcakes -- this is a local cupcake shop here in waco (actually it is just a block away from my office) and they have the best cupcakes that you have ever tasted! I am so addicted to them and that is not a good thing with them being so close!
  4. prime rib from rudy’s barbq -- rudy's is a local barbq chain here in texas and as I have mentioned before, I am a bit of a barbq snob, but rudy's is definitely the best barbq in waco. they have prime rib every week from friday night until they run out on sunday and it is so good. in fact, very few weekends go by that we do not have rudy's prime rib for at least one meal.
  5. sopapillas from rosas cafe -- for drive thru food, these are pretty good and they always cure any sweet craving I've got.
  6. hideous pomegranate liquor -- I love the taste of pomegranate, but when I went to the liquor store for some pomegranate liquor, there were 3 or 4 different kinds. the hideous one had lime green on the label, so naturally, I choose that one. it has been wonderful in everything that I have tried it in; orange juice, lemonade, cream soda.
  7. michael's famous biscuits with fuzzy navel jelly -- as I have said before my hubby makes the best biscuits and the only thing that makes them better is the fuzzy navel jelly from woody's smokehouse in centerville, texas
  8. the whole foods mega-store in austin -- naturally, as I foodie I love to grocery shop and this is like the mother ship of all grocery stores. I could spend days in here. we try to make a stop in every time we go to austin.
  9. zucchini fries with parmesan and horseradish dip -- this is one of my favorite snacks and actually one that the boys like as well. I will post the recipe soon here on my blog.
  10. le creuset cookware -- this is my favorite cookware (in lime green of course). it makes all my cooking so much more enjoyable and taste so much better.
well, I hope you've enjoyed my list. I know that I have really enjoyed putting it together. hopefully, you found a few new things to try.

03 November 2008

molten chocolate cakes in honor of chelsea

in honor of my friend, chelsea's birthday today, I'm sharing with you a recipe that I originally got from her. I'm sure I've tweeked it since then (I can't seem to help myself), but she's the one that got me started on these. chelsea, we still think of ya'll whenever we make these yummy cakes. we miss you guys!

molten chocolate cakes

makes 6 individual cakes

3 oz. Bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering
3 Eggs
3 Egg yolks
1½ cups powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting
½ cup all purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Butter 6 ¾ cup ramekins.
3. Stir chocolate and butter in a heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted. Cool slightly.
4. Whisk eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl. Add sugar, chocolate mixture, and flour. (At this point, you can save the batter covered in the fridge for up to a week.)
5. Pour into ramekins.
6. Bake cakes about 11 minutes, until sides and tops are set, but center remains runny. Run a small knife around cakes to loosen.
7. Turn cakes onto plates and dust with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.

02 November 2008

beer and pretzel pot roast

mike does not like pot roast, but he really likes this recipe (I think it was something to do with beer being in the recipe name), but seriously, beer and pretzels is a time-honored combination. we usually just serve this by itself and count the veggies in it as our side dish. you can substitute potatoes for the parsnips if you want, but the parsnips are really good in this. one of the best ways to crush the pretzels is to put them in a freezer ziploc bag and smash it with a meat mallet, it's a great way to work out your anger or frustration. it takes a little time to cook (about 3 1/2 hours), but it is well worth the time and your house will smell so yummy while it is cooking!

beer and pretzel pot roast

1 boneless chuck pot roast (3 -3 1/2 lbs), trimmed
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and halved
1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
2/3 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrot, chopped, divided
1 cup parsnips, chopped, divided
1/4 cup garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup pretzels, crushed
2 bottles of dark beer (guinness), 12 oz each
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce

  1. preheat the oven to 325
  2. season the meat with salt and pepper. heat oil over medium-high heat in an ovenproof dutch oven. sear roast on both sides until brown, 8 -10 minutes total. remove roast from pan
  3. sweat mushrooms, vegetables (1/2 cup each of the carrots and parsnips), and seasonings in the pot for 5 minutes. add the tomato paste, cook 2 minutes, then stir in the pretzels.
  4. deglaze with the beer scraping up the brown pits on the bottom of the pan; stir in broth, dijon, and worcestershire. return the seared roast to the pot and bring the liquid to a simmer. cover the pot, then transfer to the oven; braise roast for 2 hours.
  5. after 2 hours, remove pot from the oven and turn the roast over with a carving fork. add the remaining 1/2 cup carrots and 1/2 cup parsnips, then cover and return pot to the oven.
  6. braise another 45 minutes, or until the meat is spoon-tender. to serve, transfer roast and vegtables to a platter and spoon the sauce over.

01 November 2008

cheese puffs

growing up, my mom always had these in the freezer for unexpected guests. we now keep them in our freezer for unexpected guests and cravings.

1 loaf unsliced bread with crusts removed
6 oz cream cheese
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup margarine
4 eggs whites, stiffly beaten

1. Cut bread into 1” cubes.
2. Combine cheeses and margarine in a bowl. Cook in microwave, stirring every minute, until cheese is melted and mixture is becoming smooth (it takes about 12 minutes in my microwave).
3. With a hand mixer, beat until mixture is smooth (if mixture does not become smooth quickly, put back in microwave for a few minutes).
4. Fold a small amount of hot cheese mixture into egg whites. Fold egg whites into remaining cheese mixture.
5. Dip bread into mixture.
6. Place dipped cubes on lightly greased cookie sheet and freeze overnight.
7. Remove cubes from baking sheets and store in Ziploc bags in freezer.
8. Bake frozen cheese puffs @ 400° for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden