Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Xmas Time.

I have been very lazy with posts here of late. But that is not because I have not been cooking. I in fact have been cooking a lot. For Thanksgiving we had a houseful of friends who were not able to be with their families so they were with their surrogate family. There were three other couples who joined us, all who brought with them something special to share with the group for Thanksgiving. We had Matt and Beth who brought apple cider and Matt's most delish ham cheese ball, and a somewhat modified green bean casserol which was so yummy. Christine and Phil came and they brought homemade cranberry sauce which also had blue berries, heaven and Christine's family recipe for chocolate mousse, which Ashley ate us all that was left at the house! Rachel and Bruce came. Rachel is a friend from when I worked over at DCMC and is another social worker. They brought amazing wine and a chocolate hazelnut tort with caramel. I of course made the turkey which I brined this year, and it was a total success and so yummy. I made a sausage and pecan white bread and corn bread dressing. The traditional sides of corn casserole, mashed tatos and gravy. Then for the desserts that I made I of course made the pecan pie and then found a recipe for a pumpkin custard which was yummy, I have since shared that with a few of my WeightWatcher friends as it is only 3 pps per serving.

So that was Thanksgiving, as the Xmas holiday approaches though I have lots of baking on the horizon. I have so far made Tricia Caralton's Cheese log, which I shared with Emily and Jules, Annie and Jon, and then I have had several bits with crackers. I think I will make more of that soon! Then yesterday I made some peppermint sugar cookies that were a bit cheater style, as they were the Pillsbury premade dough, they are good, but I prefer a cookie a bit undercooked, so have to watch instant closely. Once those were done I made the recipe my family has always used for Cranberry Orange Bread, I have since had two slices and it is delish!!! I think also that this may be the best loaf of that I have ever made, IT CAME OUT PERFECT! So today I have been working away on mom's sugar cookies, she has the best recipe ever! The cookies are a perfect tender when the are rolled and cut then decorated, all of which will happen later. I have plans for apricot coconut bars this afternoon, and also some candy cane cookies in a Christmas cookbook which I will blog about later.

On a few personal notes... Since starting WeightWatchers again in October I have lost almost 15lbs. Which makes me a very happy girl! Ashley's mom has had surgery on her knee and then when she broke her femur during rehab had to have surgery on that as well. We are trying to keep up with her progress. Then my sweet husband Ashly has been having some dental issues, and has spent a good portion of the morning at the dentist. I hope that all goes well. More to come. Happy eating all!!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

French Pastry.....Croissants

So I may have said this before, and truthfully anyone who knows me knows I LOVE things french. I, for years, have wanted to attempt to make croissants but have always felt a bit intimidated by the amount of time it would take the whole process. Well my wonderful husband encourages me to just try anything I have thought about making, so I tried them this week. I pulled the recipe from a book that is a bit hard to find, The Encyclopedia of French Pastry, the book though has many recipes, I was fortunate enough to find it at half price books years ago.

The task initially seems pretty daunting, I read and reread the recipe countless times. I fretted over it, and finally Ashley said "just do it," this of course was at about 10:30 at night. I was able to quickly mix up the three different bowls of ingredients they was the recipe instructed, then mixed them all together like directed and placed the dough in the fridge overnight for the resting time.

I woke up the next morning not really sure how they were going to do, the dough smelled like bread dough is suppose to, that natural yeasty smell that really good bread has. I had to pound the two sticks of butter together to make one rectangle, once done with that, the enveloping of the butter with the dough occurred. Now the way you achieve the flaky crusty layers is pretty simple and amazing, you roll the dough, and fold it over on it's self try fold style, chill in the fridge, then you roll and fold again, you do this 4 times, Ashley did the math and it comes out to something like 19,000 layers in the end, now those layers are butter and dough layers; as you roll the butter gets thinner and thinner and the dough gets thinner and thinner. I was just certain that this was not going to work out the way it is suppose to.

After the final chill, you take out the dough, roll it out to a foot by 36 inches and cut out your croissants and roll them up. (I finally have pictures..)
You end up with enough dough for 24 three inch croissants. You can not really tell in the photo that the layers are visible but it was perfect how well you could see them. The unfortunate thing is that they did not hold their crescent shape too well.

These are the final version. My in-laws thought it was funny that I was taking pictures of food, which they have seen me do countless times, but I can not help it, I like to remember what the dish I consumed looked like. Regardless, I took the photo after they came out of the oven, don't they look beautiful.

No as far as taste... I have yet to find anything that is as close to the croissants you can get in Paris until now. It was like biting into a cloud of flaky buttery deliciousness. I was so surprised about how well they turned out, and frankly I can not wait to make them again. It is not a quick process, however it was a process well worth it! Next time I may try the ones filled with chocolate too.

I had the good fortune to share these with my husband and his parents. If only there were a way to easily make these for my mom, dad, and sister. Better yet, if my grandparents were still around, they would have loved them. I have them both to thank for my love of things French, and what a wonderful way to have a moment to remember them both by, a warm flaky home made croissant and a hot chocolate.

The one thing I learned with this recipe, is that I can accomplish many things, even things that initially I believe are beyond my abilities, as I thought with croissants. I hope those of you who read this will be inspired to try something a bit out of your skill set. Until next time.


Thursday, August 25, 2011


Tonight was a convenience food night for us with a touch of the homemade. With the new addition of a car payment we are going to try more often to eat in, so I have been in the process this week of cooking wonderful yummy dinners and tonight was another of those dinners. I purchased a pork tenderloin yesterday while at the store and grabbed one of those McCormick seasoning pouches with cooking bag as well, followed the instructions on the seasoning pouch to place the pork tenderloin in the baking bag and then sprinkled the seasoning mix all over, sealed up the bag, and stuck it in the oven to cook. While that cooked I mixed up a box of scalloped potatoes au'gratain, the Betty Crocker ones and put them in the oven. Finally I mixed together a batch of buttermilk popovers, why so specific about the buttermilk popovers, well last week I sent Ashley out for a 1/2 gallon of 1% milk and he came back with a half gallon of 1% BUTTERmilk; as mom would say both useful, however not always interchangeable. At least buttermilk does not really work if you are eating a peanut butter sami. Back to the buttermilk, I have this 1/2 gallon that I needed to figure out something to do with and I started searching for recipes using buttermilk, I found a popover recipe on someone else's blog and thought I would give it a shot; they were delicious!!! I did mine in the giant muffin pan as suggested, though I would not say that you can fill up the pans to the top as the recipe suggested I probably filled mine up 2/3rds of the way full and placed them in the oven. They were so yummy, I can say though that the hardest part for me was to leave the oven alone while they baked I wanted to look so bad. They came out so pretty and they rose so nicely. We will be having them again. All in all dinner was a success the pork loin, the potatoes, and the popovers. Happy cooking everyone who's reading... Until next time.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Car

Okay so that is not a post about a recipe, but I could not resist. We got a new car last night, to replace my car. I say we because occasionally we will both drive it, but over all it is my car. The poor old Neon had a number of miles on it and was frankly going to need a hefty amount of money to replace it, yes I know a new car is a hefty amount of money too, we just could not see spending the money on the car that was breaking down and had almost 125000 miles on it. The dealership gave us KBB value for our trade in and we left after a very long day with multiple test drives with my Dodge Nitro. Photos to follow post. The decision was not an easy one, but we had been talking about it for about a week, and then consulted all the parents for their thoughts, and "support." Thanks! Love the car, hope to get much enjoyment out of it!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday dinner...before work.

So you know, I have more late posts to add regarding my jam processing, but those will come with time, my hope is some time this week.

Tonight I actually felt like I had the energy to make a wonderful dinner for the hubs and I, to follow along pull out your trusted Better Homes and Gardens plaid cookbook, mine is pink. For those of you who don't know I work nights every weekend from Thursday to Sunday, which is why I at times do not have the energy to cook much; tonight however was not one of those nights, we had Steak Au Poivre, fried potatoes and onions, and artichokes with herbed butter.

So how did it all go. I used beef tenderloin steak for the steak, it actually cooked really quickly, Ashley's was a little underdone for him as he prefers a more medium well steak. I on the other hand have moved from the overdone well done of my youth to a perfectly cool medium/medium rare. Once the steaks were all done, I completed the sauce for the steaks. The recipe calls for beef broth, and tonight amazingly I had none in the house, and I had no bullion cubes to cheat with so I just added water in place of broth. The sauce was delish and easy to make, brandy, water, cream, Dijon mustard, and the drippings from the steak. I decided to add a bit of salt after tasting, remember the importance of not salt is not necessarily about salt but about enhancing the flavor.

The artichokes took a bit more time to prepare and cook. This is my first time to EVER prepare artichokes and I was a bit nervous about the task, however it was much easier then I imagined. So I pulled off some of the petals that were not firmly attached to the base, snipped the petals that were remaining on, and cut about an inch of the top off, finally peeling the stalk after removing almost all of it. Once done with preparing the artichokes they were placed in acidulated water (or water with lemon juice) until the water for cooking had come to a boil. After the water was to a boil I placed the chokes in the boiling water, and placed a lid smaller then my pot on top of them to hold them into the water as the float, placed the lid on the pot and simmered for 30 minutes. While they were cooking I prepared the butter sauce, adding dried herbs as opposed to fresh, as well as adding a dose of parmesan oil dipping seasoning so there was a bit more flavor to the sauce.

The final dish was the fried potatoes and onions, this one goes way back in my dads family I am guessing. This recipe starts with peeled sliced potatoes, thinly sliced. Then you put those in a skillet with a bit of oil, while those are starting to cook peel an onion and cut in half then slice thin, add to potatoes. I use about 4 smallish potatoes and two onions, because I love the onion flavor. To the potatoes and onions in the skillet add salt and pepper to preference and place the lid on the skillet cooking until tender and browned.

The overall opinion of the meal, the potatoes are my favorite so those I know will make a repeat. The steak was good, and the sauce was good as well, now Ashley surprisingly liked the sauce as well, I worried because it has brandy in it, and he generally does not like the flavor of liquor. The artichokes, were not as difficult to work with as I expected, however they were rather bland, requiring salt and the dipping sauce was a must! I will try the artichokes again however not this recipe; most likely a recipe that roasts the artichokes.

Well that was dinner, and now I should go prepare for my final shift of the week. Hope all are well and happy eating!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Super Saucy.

So a few weeks about my mother was visiting with us here in Hutto. While here she and I went to pick our peaches in Fredericsburg, Texas, this is something we have been attempting to make a yearly event. While at the orchard we go to, Maurburger Orchard, we noticed that they were overgrown with tomatoes, mom and I decided we just had to have some. We purchased about 14 pounds of tomatoes thinking that would be enough for a decent amount of canned tomatoes. Once home we looked and all of the canning recipes we had for tomatoes required 40-45lbs, no where near the 14lbs that we purchased minus a few that we needed to eat, you know to make sure they were good. So we set out to figure out a way to can some tomato sauce with the limited amount of tomatoes we had, Ball Canning fortunately in years past has put out a number of canning books, one of the recipes we were able to accommodate to what we wanted to do. 

Fresh tomatoes waiting to cook.

 Starting to cook a bit.

 Cooking down.

 Mom stirring away.

 Once cooked down blend in the food processor (or foodmill but I don't have one of those).

 Once blended you have to push through a fine sieve.

 And push through a sieve.

And push through.

This is what the sauce starts to look like, isn't it beautiful.

 Hot water bath canning, rack, pot, and a lot of hot water!

 Finished and they look so beautiful

 Final version, 6 beautiful jars of sauce.

So what have I learned with this experience? I love that I can say I learned to can my own tomato sauce. I know every ingredient that is in that jar, tomatoes, lemon juice, and heat. I know when I finally use it in a recipe it will make some killer tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, or enchilada sauce; and I will be able to say I made it completely from scratch. Then the final lesson I have learned, the tomato sauce you purchase in the grocery store is way under priced for the process, all in all it took my mom and me from start to finish 4 hours. Was it worth it, yes, will I be doing it again, most likely; just because I had so much fun doing it! It was all the more fun with my mom! I think the thing that I enjoyed most was that it was truly something my grandfather would have been proud of! What a fun thing to share with my mom.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My husbands ice cream

So Ashley fell in love with brownie batter ice cream from Ben and Jerry's some time ago and all of the stores near us have stopped carrying it, not sure if anyone else does or not. Regardless, I thought I would be a good wife, and yesterday morning when I woke up I got my stuff together to make homemade ice cream yesterday afternoon. I looked all over the Internet and found a site that had a recipe for brownie batter ice cream, it is another woman's blog, and her site had the recipe for brownie batter ice cream on it, I did make an adjustment to the vanilla because I am using Mexican vanilla and it tends to be very strong. I mixed up all the ingredients and placed them in the fridge to chill. Once we were done with dinner I poured the mix into my ice cream freezer (Cuisinart) and 20 minutes later we were enjoying a small dish each of brownie batter ice cream. It was very yummy, not my favorite because chocolate is not really my thing but still good. Ashley enjoyed it, and the jury is still out, so I am sure after he has a bit tonight I will get a full verdict. This is the time for ice cream, I may need to bust out the books and find a few more recipes. Happy eating.

Monday, June 20, 2011


I love beef, and I really love it in the form of a really good steak. I have been craving beef and last night while at work one of my co-workers let me sample a piece of rib eye that he had grilled Sunday with a steak/meat rub called Grub Rub. It was so yummy, and I had been thinking of that steak repeatedly today so thought it is time for steak at home. I had to go to the store to get stuff for dinner regardless of what the dinner plan was to be, so I looked to see if they had Grub Rub, and as my co-worker said there was only one bottle on the shelf, he reports that HEB can not keep it on the shelves. The rub is a sweet savory dry rub that also has some tenderizer in the meet. I also picked up two rib eyes from HEB that looked to be marbled perfectly and a good steak is always cooked on the grill so grabbed a bag of light the bag coal, this stuff makes grilling a snap.

Once home I checked the burn warnings in Wilco, and while we are in a burn ban, the ban order states that as long as we are not in a red flag day you can grill, so I attempted to fire up the grill, I say attempted because I really used an entire box of matches trying to light the stupid little bag, it is windy out where we live. I was able to finally get the coal going even if it did come with some cursing. I slathered on the rub and rubbed it into each side of the steak and let the steaks come to room temperature while the coal were warming, there are mixed theories about letting it come to room temp first some say do some say don't when I have the time I do I feel like it allows for more accurate cooking times. Once the coal was ready on went Ashley's first because he wants it more well done, so his was medium to medium well and mine turned out a perfect medium rare. Just delish sweet savory crust that does not over power the perfect flavor of the steak. Yumm with a baked potato and a salad, all costing less then what one would spend at a not so good steak house.

Until next time...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

We went to Greece, not grease today...

So I had to borrow the title from a question my dad asked my mom when he called tonight. Mom is in town and will be here for just another night, she goes home on Friday. We have had a wonderful time while she has been here, shopping and browsing, cooking and eating, and a lot of talking. I love times like this when I get to really spend time with my mom. What's even better is this trip has not been rushed like some in the past have been.

For starters I loved having mom here to help and she did. When I first started to crave this menu Ashley suggested that I wait until she came to visit for the birthday, so I did. Anyway we were going to have spaghetti if I learned she did not like lamb, but I was sure she did so once confirmed, Greek it was.

Regardless of all of that, I am sure the reader may be wondering about the title, well here is the deal. There is nothing more wonderful then a vacation to an exotic world, one where you can experience culture and cuisine. So tonight we went to Greece, not grease...

What was on the menu for this evenings dinner:
Shepherd's Salad
Lamb Kabobs with Tzatziki
Greek Potatoes with Lemon Vinaigrette
Hummus and
Pita bread

Let's first start by saying if you do not like lemon, olive oil, or Garlic you will not like this dinner. We all enjoy all of those flavors. It is a lot of work but if you have help in the kitchen you can get through it all pretty quick. Momma started the Shepherd's salad while I worked on mixing up the meat, then once we were both done with that it was on to the Tzatziki and the potatoes, mom doing the tzatziki and me the potatoes. Let me just say it is all delish!!

The hummus was my own and I have a slight variation on hummus every time I make it. I always start with Garbanzos that I drain (making sure to drain the liquid into a glass for later use), they all go into a food processor with some tahini, a touch of olive oil, a touch of lemon juice, a garlic clove, and then seasons; today's was and olive sun dried tomato bruschetta spread I had in the fridge along with salt, pepper, and a sprinkle or two of cumin; it turned out delish.

The important thing about dinner I think is that it allowed for a get away while sitting at my own table. This is the second time I have done the Greek menu, only the first time I also did Sunny Anderson's baklava cups, which you can access through the links for the lamb and the salad, as those are both hers, the are delish, had I not had birthday cake here from mom I might have made those too.

With full tummies and tired feet following a long day of shopping and a great dinner I got to fix with my momma we were ready to return back to the reality of Texas Summer and 100 degree temps. For now though we are a bit more relaxed because of our momentary get away, or maybe that's just that we are all so full none of us want to move. It was all delish!!!

Until next time...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Carrot Raisin Nut Bread

So Ashley and I have a restaurant that we will go to on occasion, Mimi's Cafe. It's a place that kinda has a French/New Orleans style flare, the food is okay, but they have these muffins and bread that are pretty amazing. We enjoy the carrot raisin nut loaf that they bring to your table at dinner. When we first tried it we both enjoyed it so much! Well I found another recipe in the Todd Wilbur cookbook Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2. In the book he has come up with a recipe for Mimi's carrot raisin nut bread, and I made it last night. The recipe makes two loafs, so as is customary with the excess baked goods at our house the second loaf went to work, where I passed it out as I could to the crew. All loved it! I got multiple thumbs up from every one! If you want just the recipe for the carrot raisin nut bread, you can purchase that from Todd Wilbur's website. Over all a hit in our home, and at my work, will be doing this again!

One of the lessons I learned was about molasses, not an ingredient I can remember ever using before. It has a very interesting smell, and I was not sure what molasses was. Ashley looked it up for me while I was cooking then I looked it up myself, it is actually a by-product of processing sugar or sugar beets. Interestingly there was an explosion in 1919 in Boston that apparently killed 21 people, according to the molasses actually exploded, though the article does not indicate how but alludes to the fact that Boston's streets were covered in molasses, and we thought traffic could be slow in Austin. The other thing that the article stated was that molasses was originally the sweetener of choice for Americans until WWI when we Americans switched to processed white granular sugar. A few other interesting tid-bits, but you will need to read the article yourself. Hope you enjoy the recipe, the bread, the book, and the lesson! Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pork Tacos...

In an effort to save money this week we are eating from the pantry and freezer. Last night I looked and found half a very large pork loin roast that I purchased and cut in  half a few weeks ago then stored in a seal a meal bag and froze.

Once the loin was completely defrosted I realized what I really wanted was something with a Mexican flair. So out came the trusty crock pot... Took an onion and cut it in half and sliced and placed in the bottom of the crock pot. Then laid the pork loin on top of the onion. Sprinkled it liberally with cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and coarse ground black pepper. The poured on top of the roast a can of medium red enchilada sauce, and beef broth up to half the roast, covered and cooked on high for 5-6 hours.

Once done I shredded the pork after removing the top layer of fat. Then added juice and onion from the pot to taste, we don't like it real soupy so not all of the juice. Then salted to taste. Took some pseudo fresh tortillas that were warmed on the range, smeared some refried beans on half, added a touch of cheese, then put the pork on the half with cheese and beans, folded over and ate taco style, without lettuce and tomato, as we had a delish salad to go with! This is absolutely something that we will be having again, and a wonderful new made it myself recipe.

If you try it let me know what you think.. I see burritos, and enchiladas, and taco salads, and quesadillas in our future.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Who does not like fresh hot donuts? I know I do, and I know my husband does. So today I thought I would make him a special treat before he headed out to work. When I was a kid my mom made the best donuts, they were either covered in powdered sugar or cinnamon and sugar. When she made these it was my favorite treat, for those of you wondering they are SUPER easy too. What you need:
1 or 2 canisters of refridgerator biscuits, you know the pillsbury type that come in four rolls for like 2.17
Hot oil. (either in a fryer, or deep pot/skillet)
powdered sugar
cinnamon and granulated sugar

Now heat the oil until hot, and by hot I mean hot. Poke holes in each of the biscuits with your fingers, stretchign the dough so the hole stays once in the hot oil then plunge the biscuit into the oil. Cook on one side until nice golden brown then flip the donut (key here which I failed to do was to ensure the oil was not so hot the outside cooked quickly and the inside did not cook all the way through, still working on that some times.) Once the donut is cooked take it out and put it in either the sugar or the cinnamon sugar mix, and make sure the whole thing is covered. Then eat while warm and enjoy.

No like I indicated, some of my donuts did not cook all the way through. This is always dissapointing to me when I have a cooking problem, but they do happen. So even if they don't get done all the way through they actually are still edible. Hope you enjoy!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

How many times have you gone to Red Lobster just for those yummy biscuits. We went last week because I had a desire to have those biscuits. While there we began talking about the fact that I have so many different recipes for those biscuits, there are so many copy cat ones on the Internet as well as in books. So I dug out one of the books that I have; it is Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur and tried them. It requires Bisquick which I had in the pantry. They were easy, quick and delish. I think they are pretty close to perfect, the mix was a bit older, but still worked and I wonder if the mix was fresh would they have been as flaky. Really they are yummy, if the mix is not the issue, I think an addition of extra butter would make them perfect as in just like the ones at Red Lobster; now mind you the ones we had tonight were "perfect" even if different. I encourage anyone to make them! Along with the biscuits we had ham, Blue Box Mac and Cheese, and vegies. All very yummy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Brisket in a Crock Pot

       Being in Texas one of my favorite treats to have happens to be brisket. I love good smoked seasoned brisket, love it with or with out sauce, on a sandwich or by itself. I have tried to smoke one before and ruined it, I have tried them in the oven low and slow, and I have done them in the crock pot. This is what we had for dinner; and was it yummy! I took a small trimmed brisket wrapped in foil with a little liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, kosher salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder; then cooked it on high for 5 hours. Did NOT NEED sauce, it was so delish! Severed that with a delish salad with lettuce, avocado, pine nuts, and dressing (The roasted garlic Parmesan one from Paul Newman) as well as some boiled new potatoes with parsley butter. The whole dinner was yummy, and the hubs enjoyed it too. Sorry no pictures but know it tasted yummy, and the left over brisket may figure out a burrito filling or a sandwich with it for this week at work. Yummm.
       Side note I try to hit the gym 4 to 5 times a week, twice with my trainer, I have missed a trainer session this week because I have felt like crap. I am still feeling pretty bad but may try to get an hour in at the gym tonight.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Devil's Food Cupcakes... YUMM

    Martha Stewart has a whole cookbook dedicated to Cupcakes, I have done three different recipes from this book now and each one has been successful. The one I made yesterday, 4/16/11 for the birthday pot luck for work, I have made before; the Devil's Food Cupcakes. The first time I made them I was a bit disappointed. They initially came out dry, though they were still good enough to eat. I really wanted to make sure that they did not come out dry this time. Before I ever got to the baking I added just a touch more sour cream then the recipe called for to ensure that they remained moist. Anther addition to the recipe was a hint of espresso powder, a tip borrowed from Ina Garten who in a number of her recipes has instant coffee of some kind to enhance the flavor of the chocolate. The last thing of importance was the oven temp, mine was running a few degrees high, so when I realized that I bumped down my temp and the length of time that the cupcakes cooked.

The Batter:
Loaded tins:
Frosting, Chocolate Butter Cream; my mom's recipe(I know she got this off a box of something I just don't know what):

1/4 cup butter melted, poured into a mixing bowl
1/2 cup powdered cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 box of powdered sugar

Combine with the butter in the mixing bowl, the cocoa, salt, milk, and vanilla, blend, once blended mix in the sugar in three parts mixing between each addition until the mix is smooth and creamy. This is an easy frosting to make specifically when you forget to put your butter on the counter to soften, as I often do.

Ready for transport to work:

Those left behind for Ashley:

Birthday Girl Robin is pleased:

Adam gives his thoughts:

Will and Tara having fun with cupcakes:
Just the folks I work with enjoying the cupcakes makes it worth it. I would have put some up with Ashley enjoying his, however, he is not one to let me take a photo. The cupcakes were delish! More to come...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Just another night...

       Tonight I was off, which is an unusual thing for a Friday night as generally I am at the hospital. I however had a training today, a training on Diversity in Health Care, good training but much of the stuff I have previously heard. Regardless I got home and started to plan for the cooking event for tonight's dinner and tomorrow's birthday pot luck at work. The biggest question even for someone like me who loves to cook is "What's for dinner?" Ashley is no help because when I ask him what he wants he has no clue what would take how long or if we even have the stuff to make for dinner, so if I ask him I have to give him choices.
      Tonight's dinner paid homage to both of my grandparents. I did a very simple ground beef patty with tomato sauce basil and sharp cheddar cheese, with Southern style fry potatoes and onions. My maternal grandmother had the most amazing way of making even the most ordinary ingredients some how feel special; she is the one who did the beef patty with cheese. What's so special about this, absolutely nothing other then it tastes good if you like beef and cheese and it is super easy. Now the fry potatoes and onions initially when I was first living on my own and attempted to make these I could never get them right; it appears to be about the steaming. So you start with a hot skillet with oil, add a sliced onion, I half the onion, then slice then keeping the slices together cut it into quarters then add the onions to the oil while I work on the slicing of the potatoes; somewhere between potato chip thin and chunks, and the potatoes are halved and sometimes quartered depending on the diameter. Once done with the potatoes I add them to the onions and stir, placing a lid and steaming essentially until they are soft enough to enjoy, removing the lid in the last minutes of cooking for crisping of some of the surface. No mind you this is not fancy in fact it is far from it, but there is nothing better then the smell of cooking onions and potatoes together. Now my dad would have to correct me if I am wrong, but for some reason I remember having the potatoes with a yummy bowl of pinto beans, corn bread and the occasional tomato relish. I will share the relish recipe at a later time if interested. They were staples in my dads culinary repertoire.
      So what are the plans for cooking for the pot luck? I was approached and asked to make chocolate cupcakes with butter cream frosting; being that I enjoy that kind of thing I said yes. I am going to do the Devil's Food cupcakes from the Martha Stewart Cupcake cookbook. I have done them before but the first time I did them I either cooked them too long or my measurements were off as they were dry. I have done the Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes as well as the Carrot Cupcakes from that book, and I have to say I enjoyed both of those. I have a few things to try in an effort though to salvage the Devil's Food Cupcakes this time... I made sure to have full fat sour cream, I will bump the temp down just a bit in case my oven runs hot, and I will start to check them earlier then the suggested length of cooking time. Other then the cupcakes I may make a Weight Watchers Italian style Bread Salad, which is YUMM. Also from a cookbook I have used a bit.
      I want to share a trick with you though, in case none of you have thought of this, and you have a need to transport large amount of cupcakes, think kids school party and you are the cupcake mom, or social event and you want to take little cakes of sweet sugary goodness, I have a larger then most would think needed tupperware container, I place the cupcakes in there before they are iced; throw the icing in a large zip top bag, and take a spreader, then I ice them as I give them out. There are multiple benefits to this, each person dictates how much frosting they would like or not like and THERE IS NO MAJOR MESS!
     So not sure if I will write tomorrow night as I start back to work; I am currently in the process of trying to figure out which would be the best book to start with aside from the Cupcake Cookbook and the WeightWatchers one I just referenced. I mean seriously I have more cookbook's then most public libraries. Until next time...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Getting started.

      So I was at lunch today with a friend who suggested after I talked about doing a blog about food that I should do it. I know so Julie and Julia of me, but I love the movie. I sat with the idea for a few hours before engaging in this project. I know many people who do cooking/food blogs, so I don't think this one will be very different, I however wanted to give myself an outlet and a way to encourage something new.
     Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a soft spot for books. I am not just talking any ol' book, I am talking cookbooks. Cookbooks, cooking magazines, cooking websites, they are all my weaknesses. Everything from food for kids to food's most people would not even contemplate putting in their mouths. I feel like I could easily travel the globe with some of the books that I have. Why cookbooks, I don't know but they have gotten to the point where they almost take over every room in the house. My husband can attest to that.
     I bring up cook books because I believe there is an idea here. What to do with all those cookbooks (we are talking hundreds when it gets right down to it)? Some people ask do I cook from all of them, have I cooked from all of them, or have I ever cooked from them? Other's just wonder if I really need another one; so I think may have come up with the idea for what I can do with those books and this blog! I will attempt to focus on a cook book at a time, doing a sort of book review of each. I will cook a few/or more recipes out of each book, and well for the ones that are keepers in the cookbook department I will keep and for the ones that are not will go. This will make the hubs very happy as I am sure he believes my books have taken over. So that is the start of the plan; I however have several other things in mind as well, from talking about new ingredients to stories of friends who have called me asking for help regarding a meal, recipe, or food.
      So who am I and why do I have a right to call myself a foodie. Well other then the fact that I love food I really have no reason to call myself a foodie. I am a social worker who currently works in an emergency room. I have been in the social work field in one form or fashion since 1997. I am happily married to a man, Ashley, who I believe makes me a better person, and we have three wonderful dogs. I have two wonderful parents who helped foster my love of food, and a sister who I have practiced countless cooking opportunities on before we went our ways as adults. My sister has two amazing children who I hope to be able to share my love of food with.
      My family, growing up I can always remember both my mother and father cooking. I can remember each had their own way of adding spices and heat. I can also say that both had variations on my favorite foods that to this day I still love.
      My dad's family I believe brought a love of seafood and southern comfort. I have many recipes for fish and shell fish as a result of my dad's side of the family having a love affair with the ocean. This love of the coast was carried on through the raising of his children. My mom's family had both frugality in mind as well as eating inspired by worldly travels. My mother was given a great opportunity to travel around the world and live in different parts of the world while growing up. I believe that when my mother and dad married their culinary skills and history were entrusted to me.
      I hope to share more as time goes by about family and friends who share a similar passion for food and cooking as I do; I also hope to share stories about friends and family who don't have that same love. In the mean time, I hope that this is a task that will be a fun learning culinary adventure for me. Until next time..