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..