27 January 2009

low fat texas sheet cake -- in honor of national chocolate cake day

this is also called mexican chocolate cake or just chocolate sheet cake.  once again, caryn loves this cake but this is the only recipe that michael likes.  it’s a cooking light recipe, so it’s not as heavy as most.

cooking spray
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup water
½ cup butter or stick margarine
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
½ cup low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

6 tablespoons butter or stick margarine
⅓ cup fat-free milk
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup chopped pecans
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. preheat oven to 375°.
  2. to prepare cake, coat a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray, and dust with 2 teaspoons flour.  set prepared pan aside.
  3. lightly spoon 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  combine 2 cups flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk.  combine water, ½ cup butter, and ¼ cup cocoa in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  remove from heat; pour into flour mixture.  beat a medium speed of a mixer until well-blended.  add buttermilk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and eggs; beat well.  pour batter into prepared pan; bake at 375° for 17 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  place on wire rack.
  4. to prepare icing, combine 6 tablespoons butter, milk and ¼ cup cocoa in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  remove from heat, and gradually stir in powdered sugar, pecans, and 2 teaspoons vanilla.  spread over hot cake.  cool completely on wire rack. 
note: you can also make this recipe in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.  bake at 375° for 22 minutes.

26 January 2009

my mom's homemade marshmallow recipe -- in honor of her birthday

since today is my mom's birthday, I wanted to share with you, one of her favorite recipes. she loves to make homemade marshmallows and the boys love to make and eat them with her. they are a little difficult, but well worth it. one word of warning though, once you try homemade marshmallows, those from the store just will not cut it anymore!

homemade marshmallows

makes about 24 two-inch squares that can be layered between sheets of parchment and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup cold water, divided
3 1/4-ounce envelopes unflavored gelatin
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup potato starch*
1/2 cup powdered sugar
  1. line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with foil. coat foil lightly with nonstick spray.
  2. pour 1/2 cup cold water into bowl of heavy-duty mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Sprinkle gelatin over water. let stand until gelatin softens and absorbs water, at least 15 minutes.
  3. combine 2 cups sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup cold water in heavy medium saucepan. stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush. attach candy thermometer to side of pan.
  4. increase heat and bring syrup to boil. boil, without stirring, until syrup reaches 240F, about 8 minutes.
  5. with mixer running at low speed, slowly pour hot syrup into gelatin mixture in thin stream down side of bowl (avoid pouring syrup onto whisk, as it may splash). gradually increase speed to high and beat until mixture is very thick and stiff, about 15 minutes. add vanilla and beat to blend, about 30 seconds longer.
  6. scrape marshmallow mixture into prepared pan. smooth top with wet spatula. let stand uncovered at room temperature until firm, about 4 hours.
  7. stir potato starch and powdered sugar in small bowl to blend. sift generous dusting of starch-sugar mixture onto work surface, forming rectangle slightly larger than 13x9 inches. turn marshmallow slab out onto starch-sugar mixture; peel off foil. sift more starch-sugar mixture over marshmallow slab. Coat large sharp knife (or cookie cutters) with nonstick spray. Cut marshmallows into squares or other shapes. Toss each in remaining starch-sugar mixture to coat. Transfer marshmallows to rack, shaking off excess mixture.
* a food thickener made from cooked, dried, ground potatoes, this gluten-free flour is also known as potato flour; available at most supermarkets.

25 January 2009

cocoamoda again, I feel an addiction coming on!

on our way back to waco today, mike and I decided to stop once again in calvert at cocoamoda (the wonderful chocolate shop that I blogged about earlier this month). we went in there just thinking that we would each just get one truffle, but once we got in there and I saw all the truffles behind the case, I knew that one simply would not be enough. I had decided on 3 truffles (key lime, passionfruit, and hazlenut) when the owner, Chef Ken Wilkinson, came out. I re-introduced myself and told him that he may not remember me but that I had been in right after new year's and was so impressed with his chocolates that I blogged about them and that blog post has become my 2nd top post. the owner's eyes lit up and he was so grateful he said that he had gotten lots of traffic from my blog post and the other guy working there said that my blog post is one of the first things that comes up when you search for cocoamoda on google. (I checked it and he was right, my blog post is 4th). the owner was so appreciative that he insisted we take a dozen truffles on the house (and really, who am I to turn down an offer like that!) while we were talking, he insisted that I try one of his newest creations, chocolate covered mango pieces. I am not usually a mango fan, but these were divine, the fruit was chewy sweet and the chocolate was the right counterbalance for it. I couldn't wait to try my hazelnut truffle (you know I love hazelnut and chocolate) and it was everything I could have dreamed of and more. the creamy interior of like hazelnut jelly was surrouded by the best chocolate with a hazelnut piece on top for just a little bit of crunch. I would love to take credit for this great picture of the exterior of cocoamoda, but I found it on flickr on justlooking's photostream. but I can take credit for the picture below of all the wonderful truffles we got!
if you are looking for some great pictures of cocoamoda's chocolates, check out rebecca sherman's blog

22 January 2009

my mom's corn casserole recipe -- in honor of my sister

my mother is famous for her corn casserole and she has a fool-proof recipe that anyone can make. anyone, but me, that is. I have tried many times to make it and it never comes out right. I am the only one that my mother knows who has not had success with her recipe, even my sister is able to make it. my sister does not bake much, so the fact that she can make this and I can't really gets under my skin. one time, she even forgot to put the sour cream in and when she remembered, she took the casserole out of the oven and mixed the sour cream in and then put it back in to finish baking. and it still turned out good. so, in honor of my sister's birthday today, I am sharing my mom's corn casserole recipe with you.  if you try it, let me know how it turns out for you.

my mom's corn casserole

1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix (my mom uses jiffy)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter.
  3. Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch casserole dish.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.
  5. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.

21 January 2009

thinking about making some changes

I've been thinking today about making some changes to this blog and I would like some feedback from you, my faithful readers.

the first thing that I have been thinking about is changing the name of this blog (not the url, just the name).  cooking and eating in Texas just doesn't seem to be as catchy as some of the other food blogs out there.  any thoughts on what a good name would be?  I was thinking maybe "a wooden spoon and a fork" just something catchy.

the other thing that I have been thinking about is doing questions on one day of the week, kind of like thursday's thunks, but all about food.  maybe post 10 questions each week and any other foodies can answer them on their blog and I will answer them on here.  I think it would be a fun way to get to know the other foodie bloggers better.  what do you think?

please leave me a comment and let me know what you think of the ideas, be honest, you won't hurt my feelings.  looking forward to getting some great feedback!

18 January 2009

sunday six -- food

I usually do dogeared photo's sunday six challenge on my thoughts blog, but this week, it seems that I all I took pictures of was food, so here are my six food pictures from this last week:

16 January 2009

a gift of homemade bread!!

I rarely get food gifts from others, so I was very plesantly suprised when mike brought home, homemade wheat bread from one of his co-worker's wives.  it is so good, and as you can see, we have already been enjoying it.  I am trying to think of all the wonderful things that I can make with it.

14 January 2009

this time of year, my thoughts always turn to . . . breakfast

ok, those of you who thought I was crazy for the 25 cookies and candies at Christmas, you are really going to think that I am nuts now.

every year, I cook breakfast from scratch for my husband's office on the saturday before the april tax deadline.  I did it the first year that he started working there and now it is something that everyone looks forward to.  so, once all the craziness from Christmas starts to die down, my mind starts planning what I will cook for this.  I usually cook about 8 breakfast casseroles or breads to bring in the morning and then when I come back around lunch time to clean up, I usually bring some cookies and biscotti so everyone can have a nice afternoon snack.  I figure this is the least that I can do since everyone at mike's office work so hard that time of year and I LOVE to cook, so really, it's not a hardship.

I would like a little help from you, my dear readers, please comment to this post with any ideas that you have for what I should cook.  just like with the 25 cookies and candies at Christmas, I will post all my recipes and pictures here on my site in april.

13 January 2009

sticky monkey bread

 my mom used to make these when I growing up and I loved it.  since I got my new monkey bread pan at williiams and sonoma, I had to make this and bring it to the office this morning.   don't you wish you worked with me?
1 25 ounce package of frozen cloverleaf or parkerhouse rolls (24 count)
1 cup brown sugar
1 package butterscotch pudding and pie filling (regular, not instant)
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup melted butter or margarine
  1. layer frozen rolls in a bundt pan. mix brown sugar, butterscotch pudding, and pecans and sprinkle on rolls. pour butter or margarine on top.
  2. cover with a dishtowel and let rise overnight at room temperature.
  3. bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes (cover with foil after 20 minutes). let stand for 10 minutes. after removing from oven; invert on a large round plate. spoon any caramel mixture that runs on plate over top of rolls.

11 January 2009

eating in austin

I went down to austin today, to see my wonderful sister-in-law and to spend my williams and sonoma gift card. I will blog tomorrow about the goodies that I got from williams and sonoma, but today, let's talk food. for lunch we went to hang town grill. it was really good, but nothing extravagant.

after some shopping, we decieded to abuelos for drinks and dessert and that was the right choice!!

mike and his sister got the house margarita and I got the tropical margartia, they were all great

we decieded to each get a different dessert and share them and they were all wonderful.

mike got flan (of course)

mel got molten chocolate cake

and I got tres leches cake

07 January 2009

goodies from foodbuzz

I have been so jealous of all my other foodbuzz friends and all the goodies that they have gotten from foodbuzz. I got my first set of goodies today, minicards!! I'm so excited, I can't wait to pass them out!

06 January 2009

blackberry belini

I wanted to make something different to drink on new years eve and since I love blackberries and champagne, I decided to make a blackberry belini (makes enough for 2 drinks)

4 ounces vodka (recommended: tito's handmade vodka)
1 ounce blue curacao
20 fresh (or frozen) blackberries
2 ounces rose's lime juice
1/4 cup sugar
  1. add the first 5 ingredients (vodka through sugar) to a blender
  2. add champange to blender to cover all ingredients and blend until smooth
  3. strain until glass and enjoy

05 January 2009

lemon linguine

my friend katie, asked me today if I had a good pasta recipe that I could share with here.  of course, I always have recipes to share.  this is one of those great dishes that are easy to make and we always have the ingredients on hand.  this makes a great, really simple dinner.

lemon linguine

2 pounds of linguine
2 egg yolks
⅔ cup of heavy cream
½ cup of freshly grated parmesan
zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½, plus more juice if needed
pinch of salt
freshly milled black pepper
4 tablespoons (½ stick) of unsalted butter
2-3 tablespoons of chopped parsley
  1. fill a large pot with water and cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package.
  2. in a bowl, beat the yolks, cream, parmesan, zest of the whole lemon and juice of a half of it, the salt, and a good grind of pepper with a fork.  taste and adjust seasoning, if you want it more lemony, then, of course, add more juice.
  3. as soon as the pasta looks ready, remove a cup of the cooking liquid and drain the pasta.  then, off the heat, toss it back in the pot and stir in the butter until the butter's melted and the pasta is covered all over.
  4. once the pasta's covered with the butter, stir in the egg mixture until it is all incorporated into the pasta, adding some of the cooking liquid if it looks a bit dry.  (only 2 tablespoons or so--you do not want a wet mess--and only after you think the sauce is incorporated.)  sprinkle over the parsley and serve.

04 January 2009

chicken bellini

for those of you who don't know me, I hate to throw out food. most of the times that I come up with new recipes, it is just to keep from having to throw out something.  well, this recipe is no different.  I realized this morning that I had a little bit of champagne left from new years eve.  it had been in the fridge unopened since then, so it wasn't good for drinking anymore.  I came up with this recipe to use the rest of the champagne, and it was wonderful!  we had it with some whole-wheat couscous and the blue cheese vinagrette salad again.  it was actually a pretty healthy meal without really meaning to be, and it tasted amazing!

chicken bellini

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 bone-in chicken breasts
2 cups champagne
2 cups frozen peach slices
  1. pre-heat oven to 350.  in an oven proof pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes.  add in the chicken to the pan and brown on all sides.
  2. pour the champagne in the pan and add-in the frozen peach slices.
  3. cover and bake in the pre-heated oven for 90 minutes.  remove from oven and serve. see, wasn't that easy!

03 January 2009

ed's jolly candy bars

my son ed loves to cook and so this his is recipe that he came up with last week while staying with his grammie (my mom).  hope you enjoy making these with your kids as much as we enjoyed making them with ed!

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
6 cups mini marshmallows
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup wheat chex
3 cups rice crispies
3 cups mini nilla wafers (crushed by hand)
  1. lightly grease 13X9 pan
  2. microwave butter in large microwavable bowl on high for 45 seconds or until melted.  add marshmallows and toss to coat.  microwave on high an additional 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until marshmallows are completly melted, stiring every 30 seconds.
  3. add remaining ingredients to bowl and mix well.  pour mixture into prepared pan and let cool.  once it has cooled, cut into squares and enjoy!

02 January 2009

cocoamoda in calvert, I think I'm in love!

there is a new gourmet chocolate shop, cocoamoda, in calvert (one of the small towns between waco and college station) that my mom has been raving about ever since she first stopped there on her way to waco for thanksgiving. so tonight we drove down to college station to meet my parents and get the boys back. on the way down we called cocoamoda to make sure that they would be open on our way back and we decided that we would stop there with the boys.

the first thing that I noticed when I walked in was how beautiful the place was inside. it was decorated with what mike called "sleek european" decor, to me it looked like a cigar club with dark wood and dark leather furniture and fixtures. as we stood there, mouths open and drooling, looking at all the beautiful chocolates, the owner came over to talk to us and began offering us samples (that's how all food addictions begin, right?).

I tried a cassis truffle that litterally exploded in my mouth, it was wonderful. it had a black currant jelly center surrounded by milk chocolate and topped with edible gold. mike tried the chocolate orange peel. it had a surpisingly mild orange flavor with a strong dark chocolate coating. my mom raved about the chocolate orange peel. mike said that it met the high expectations that he had for it. they were also nice enough to offer truffles to the boys. ed got a passionfruit truffle that he did not like, so after taking a bite he gave it to me. I never thought that I would have liked a passionfruit truffle, but this was divine. it had, again, a jelly center surrounded by white chocolate with a sugar coating that gave it a little crunch. lee wanted to try the anisette truffle, although we warned him that it would be bitter. just like his brother, lee took one bite of his and gave it to mike who happily finished it. mike said that it had a creme filling with a subtle anise flavor surrounded by a cruchy shell and then covered in dark chocoalte. although not usually a fan of anise, mike said it was really good.

after all of our tasting, we finally decided on 12 truffles that we wanted to get, and mike got a cafe americano for the road. as mike was paying, I looked over the menu and was pleasantly surpised to see that they had some delicious sounding items on the menu as well. mike's ears perked up when they said that they serve breakfast all day on saturday and sunday. we will have to make another trip down to try out their food as well.
their website is: www.cocoamoda.com

01 January 2009

our new year's eve dinner

for those of you who know mike and I, you know that we never pass up a chance to cook a wonderful meal and last night was no exception. here is what we had:

cheese and crackers plate
mike has become a big cheese fan lately. so, when he stopped at heb on his way home to get a few things, he got some delicious cheeses for us to try. my favorite was the white stilton with apricots

blackberry bellini
frozen blackberries, champagne, vodka, and blue curacao, with a splash of roses lime juice. delicious!!

zuchini chips with horseradish dip
mike cooked up our zuchini fries sliced as chips, and I made my horseradish dip to go with them.

blue cheese vinegrette salad
this was my attempt to recreate the salad that we like so much at 135 prime. I used field greens with sliced apples, blue cheese, and candied pecans. I used the blush vinegreitte for the dressing. although it was not quite the same, it was a really good salad.

beer battered shimp with red pepper bowtie alfredo
several years ago, at a restaurant called Fish Camp near Gulf Shores, Alabama, we had fettucini alfredo with fried shrimp. ever since then, it's been one of our favorite combinations.

molten chocolate cakes with a shot of bailey's irish cream

since they didn't have mike's favorite dessert the other night at 135 Prime, I decided to try this tonight to see if it would work as a replacement. I made my standard molten chocolate cakes and added a shot of bailey's on the top!