Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday dessert: Gingerbread with cream cheese icing and spiced vanilla ice cream

I am very excited to try this dessert tonight, we are having Ryan's parents over for an early Christmas get-together.

Spiced Vanilla Ice Cream

2 large eggs
3/4 c sugar
2 c heavy cream
1 c milk
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp freshly grated nutmeg
4 tbsp freshly grated cinnamon
1 tsp dark rum

With your stand mixer on high, whisk the eggs for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Slowly incorporate the sugar, a little at a time, and mix for 1 minute more. Turn the mixer to low and add the cream and milk, mix for 1 minute. Add the vanilla bean scrapings, extract, spices and rum, and mix for 2 minutes. Transfer to the ice cream maker of your choice and freeze for at least 1 hour to set the ice cream.

GASP! I made the gingerbread from a box. The horror! I just don't have time to make it from scratch today.

The cream cheese icing is here, just cut the recipe in half if you are using an 8x8 pan for the gingerbread.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mulled wine

Careful, this concoction will sneak up on you and can lead to headaches the next day!

-2 bottles of inexpensive red wine (we used merlot and tempernillo)
-1 c raw sugar
-1 large orange, cut into sixths
-12 whole cloves, stuck into the peels of the above orange
-5-6 cinnamon sticks, bundled together
-4-6 tbsp of whole mulling spices (star anise, mace, nutmeg, etc), tied in cheesecloth or some other sort of infusing device

Combine all ingredients together and bring to a simmer in a crock pot. Reduce heat to low and serve with cinnamon sticks.

Coconut-rum poached pears

This isn't a make-ahead dessert, but it really is a crowd pleaser! I actually made this for a small dinner party last weekend, and sort of hung out with my friends while I stirred the sauce. Serve warm over vanilla ice cream for a "fancy" dessert!

Note: we make our own coconut rum "for funsies", and it's super easy. Buy a coconut a drill a small hole in the top. Pour out the milk and fill the coconut with about a cup of dark rum. Plug up the top and refridgerate for a week. Strain out the rum through a coffee filter and revel in the yummy!

-1/3 c coconut rum
-1/2 c pear juice (I used "pear nectar" from the Latin foods aisle)
-2 tbsp sugar
-3 large pears, cored and cut into wedges
-1 tbsp butter

In a large sautee pan, combine the rum, pear juice and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the pears, cook for 10 minutes. Remove the pears with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the butter to the pan and boil the sauce for at least 10 minutes, until the liquid is reduced to a syrup. Kill the heat, toss the pears back into the pan to warm them up, then serve!

Thanksgiving leftovers: Shepherd's pie

This is a tomato-based recipe, instead of a typical beef-broth one.

-4 tbsp olive oil
-1 c onions, finely chopped
-1 c carrots, diced
-1/4 tsp creole seasoning
-1/4 tsp garlic salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp thyme
-1 tbsp flour
-1 small can of tomato paste
-2 1/2 c leftover turkey, shredded into small pieces
-1 1/2 c chicken stock
-1 small pkg peas (frozen or fresh)
-4 c mashed potatoes
-3/4 c shredded cheese

In a large Dutch oven, sautee the olive oil, onions, carrots, seasoning, salt, pepper and thyme over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until onions are very soft. Add the flour, cook 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, cook 1 minute. Stir in the turkey, then add the stock and bring the pan to a boil. Stir in the peas and simmer for about 6-10 minutes, until the mixture is thickened.

Cover evenly with the mashed potatoes, then sprinkle on the cheese. Baked uncovered in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes. If the top isn't brown and bubbly at the end of the 25 minutes, broil for about 2-3 minutes. Let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fall foods are the best!

Fall is my favorite season, always has been. Fall foods are the best part! I recently had some amazing seasonal meals, my favorite came from Lightcatcher Winery (we had a bottle of their spiced red wine, too). Mushroom ravioli with a grape sauce and cauliflower puree, and a salad with toasted walnuts, gorgonzola, apples, pears and a maple-onion vinigarette.

Unfortunately, between work and school, I'm gone 50+ hours a week and never seem to have the energy I need to try new recipes here at home. When your routine is get up/go to school/go to work/sleep/get up and do it all over again, it sort of zaps your will to do anything at all.

Occasionally, however, I manage to pull it all together and cook something new. Last week I made this butternut squash soup from Cooking Light. It was good the first night, but I really didn't like the reheated leftovers. Make this for a crowd, or cut the recipe in half and decide for yourself if the leftovers are worth it. The spiced pumpkin seeds were AMAZING!

1 tbs powdered sugar
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs beaten egg white
1/4 tsp water
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of ground red pepper
3/4 c pumpkinseed kernels

Combine everything but the seeds in a bowl and stir well. Add the seeds, and stir to coat. Spread evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and coated with a small amount of cooking spray or oil. Bake at 300 for 15 minutes, stir, and bake 15 more minutes. Once the seeds have cooled, break them apart (they tend to stick together).

Butternut squash soup:

3 1/2 pounds butternut squash, seeded and cut in half
1 tbs vegetable oil
1/4 tsp salt
4 c chicken broth
2 c water
1/2 tsp more salt

Brush the cut sides of the squash with the oil and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt. Place face-down on a coated baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Set aside to cool, when you can handle them, scrape out the pulp and discard the skin.

Place the pulp and chicken stock in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Use a stick blender to blend until smooth. Stir in the water and remaining salt, and let it come to just barely a simmer before you kill the heat. Serve with the spiced seeds on top!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Emily is a big huge dork

I've started a wine journal, in Excel no less. It focuses on Texas wines, since that's what I am currently obsessed with, and includes tasting notes, purchase history and a "Want it/Don't buy it" category. Hey, I've got to keep track somehow!

I haven't been cooking very much since school started in June, but that should hopefully change after next week. I switched to full-time at school, and will only be working about 2-3 nights a week at Starbucks, so I'll have plenty of time to cook in the evenings! Definitely looking forward to eating my Lean Cuisine frozen meals for lunch instead of dinner. Also looking forward to de-zombifying myself for a few months. Being permenantly tired sucks.

Lentil salad is on the books for dinner tomorrow, I love cheap n easy protein! We have a coconut in the fridge, too, not sure what that will turn into. Maybe cocktails, maybe muffins. I never really know until Ryan hacks it up for me and I make up my mind. I also need to make red sauce and chicken stock.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pumpkin Muffins

1 box spice cake mix
1 15 oz can pumpkin
1 cup water

Mix in bowl with mixer. Fill paper cups 3/4 full. Bake at 350 for 20 - 25 minutes. Makes 24 muffins. Muffins will be very moist. Can top with cool whip or other toppings if desired.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Special Dinner Out

On Friday night, Ryan and I had dinner at Lightcatcher Winery. It was one of the best meals I have had in a long time!

Pasta Salad with Summer Vegetables

This is perfect to bring to a cookout or picnic in the summertime. It's fairly easy to make, it tastes light and summery, and it can sit out for hours without getting funky like dairy-based salads can.

The vegetables that I listed below are only suggestions, because that's what I had available. I can imagine that this would taste great with any fresh garden vegetable, so please experiment!

-1 pound small-sized pasta (bowties, wagon wheels, whatever), cooked al dente
-6-8 slices center-cut bacon
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1 tsp salt
-1/4 c balsamic vinegar
-3-4 tbsp olive oil
-2 tbsp dijon mustard
-1 tbsp honey
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 tbsp dry or fresh basil (fresh is best)
-1 large cucumber, chopped
-1 green pepper, chopped
-1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

Cook the bacon in a pan or skillet over medium heat. Remove the bacon, set aside to cool and chop into small pieces. Leave drippings in pan.

Add the minced garlic and 1 tsp salt to the pan. Sautee the garlic in the bacon drippings until it is well cooked. Pour the contents of the pan through a strainer to remove any solids, into a mixing bowl.

Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, honey, salt, pepper and basil to the bowl with the bacon drippings. Whisk well until combined. Toss with the still-warm pasta and set aside to cool.

Toss the veggies and bacon bits with the pasta just before serving. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Texas Hill Country wine tour

Last weekend, I joined my amazing Houston-based girlfriends, Shannon and Tiffany, for a Girl's-Only Wine Weekend extravaganza. We participated in the 2009 Harvest Wine Trail in the Austin-Fredericksburg area. It was a wonderful trip, and I wanted to share some of my tasting notes with you.

Let me preface this by stating that I am not highly educated in wine - I know a few things, and I have a pretty good sniffer, but I just drink what I like! I wanted to be able to buy a bottle from each vineyard, so I had a $15 per bottle limit. Of course, there were a few places that I ended up not buying anything from, AND I ended up breaking that rule now and again, but whatever.


First stop, Spicewood Vineyards. We had a lovely host and it was a very pretty setting - tranquil and simple. We tasted a total of 7 wines, and there was really only 1 that I didn't care for. I ended up purchasing the 06 Chardonnay - grapes come from Washington state and it was aged in 100% stainless, so the usually overpowering oaky taste was replaced with a rich fruity (but dry) flavor. It's very crisp and tropical. I also took home a bottle of the 07 Cabernet Claret, which is delicate and spicy, with notes of apple and cherry. Overall, an excellent experience.

Second stop, McReynolds Winery. Incredibly rustic, with two adorable winery dogs and a funky older couple running the place (both with PhD's, I might add). Note: don't bother with the cheese plate, it's pretty dinky. All of the wines at McReynolds have undertones of minerals and an almost dusty taste. It can sometimes be overpowering. Also, their reds had a very strong "grapey" flavor (the fancy term is "fruity" but really it's just grape). I ended up purchasing the 02 Merlot, mostly because I wanted the 06 but it was out of my price range and the 02 was very spicy and bold. Overall, an okay experience.

Third stop, Lost Creek Vineyard. Now, we got to Lost Creek late in the afternoon, after the tasting room closed. So, we stayed for dinner! I had a spicy lobster bisque and a wonderful mixed-greens salad with balsamic dressing and strawberries. Since we never made it over to Flat Creek Estate, we ordered a bottle of their 2007 Super Texan. It didn't last long! After dinner, we purchased a bottle of Lost Creek's 2005 Chardonnay (which was on their tasting menu). The girls didn't care for it, but I like white wines in the summertime and enjoyed drinking it on the patio while listening to a folk-country band.


First, Pedernales Cellars. Tried 6 wines, mostly reds because Tiffany was having a white wine hangover :) Took home the 07 Merlot and the 08 Muscat - normally I don't drink dessert wines, but it was just too good to pass up. The girls each bought a bottle of port, which was off the hook. The wines were all excellent, and the facility is shiny and new. Very nice place to visit!

Then we drove up to Fredericksburg, to the Fredericksburg Winery. Tried 6 of their "dry" wines, but they were too sweet. To quote Shannon "Excellent place to go if you are accustomed to drinking Franzia White Zin from a box and want to move up a step".

Third stop, Becker Vineyards. Stocked up on lavender soaps and had a fantastic host who stopped counting and started pouring anything he felt like. It was awesome, we got something like 14 tastings for $5. Plus, we went on a mini cellar tour, which was fun. I could have walked away with at least 5 bottles, including their "who needs dessert?" port, but I restrained myself and bought the 07 Zinfandel, which was bold and bright.

Fourth stop was Torre di Pietra, which didn't have any free tastings for ticket holders (wtf?). They had a great retail section, but it was dark inside, and felt a little like being in a dungeon. Since it was too hot to sit outside and listen to the band, we crammed into an empty spot at the bar and tasted 4 wines, from a Primitivo to the Tango Port. The two bottles I loved, the 05 Claret and Mataro, were WAY out of my range...and, honestly, not necessarily worth the high price tag. So I left empty-handed, boo hoo.

Even though it was not planned, we saved the best winery for last. At the end of a long, very hot day, we decided to visit Woodrose Winery in Stonewall. We sat on the deck, facing a pretty wooded area, and purchased the "Mike's Choice" tasting menu. One interesting tidbit is that their 07 Zinfandel was made with the exact same grapes that the Fredericksburg winery purchased to make their 07 Zinfandel, with incredibly different results. FW's Zin was sweet, delicate and fruity. WR's Zin was peppery and bold. I broke my "no pink wine" rule and bought their 2008 Texas Rain Rose, and a bottle of the 07 Three Dog White. Somebody came out to check on us, and Tiffany asked to pay extra for an additional off-menu tasting. Turns out, that somebody is Mike, owner and vinter. He brought out two reserve wines for us to taste, then gave us a personal tour of the property. We saw the cellar and fermenting room, got to taste an unlabeled, unreleased Cab-Merlot blend that was JUST bottled, AND got to barrel taste a merlot. It was amazing!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Comfort food: Refrigerator pie

The ultimate in pudding-ey goodness!

-1 store-bought graham cracker pie shell
-1 packet of cook-and-serve vanilla pudding
-1 packet of cook-and-serve chocolate pudding
-1 or two still slightly green bananas
-1 box Nilla cookies

Slice the banana and layer in the bottom of the pie shell so it looks something like this:

Prepare the vanilla pudding according to the directions on the box for pie filling. Pour over the bananas, and refrigerate for 15 minutes to cool.

While the pudding cools, prepare the chocolate pudding according to the directions on the box for pie filling. Pour over the vanilla, then top with Nilla cookies. Chill, then serve!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Asian Three-Bean Salad

This is a great summer dish! It's easy to make, it's fairly healthy and there's very little cooking involved.

-1 lb string beans, trimmed and cut
-10 oz shelled edamame
-3 tbsp vegetable oil
-3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
-1/4 apricot preserves
-1 tbsp sugar
-1 tsp freshly grated ginger
-1 tsp salt
-1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed

Steam the string beans and edamame in the microwave for 3-4 minutes, so they are crisp-tender, drain off excess water and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, apricot preserves, sugar, ginger and salt until it forms a nice emulsion. Toss with the cooling vegetables. After coating, stir in the black beans. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Orzo with Parmesan and Basil

This recipe can easily be doubled for a crowd.

-2 tbsp butter
-1 c orzo pasta
-1 can chicken stock (14.5 oz)
-1 tsp salt (optional - I wouldn't use it if your stock is already salty)
-1 tsp pepper
-1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
-1/4 chopped basil

In a medium saucepan over med-high heat, sautee the uncooked pasta in the butter for about 5 minutes, or until it starts to brown. Add the chicken stock, salt and pepper, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Let the pasta cool for a few minutes before adding the cheese and basil. Serve warm!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Amazing birthday present!

My granny MADE this for me! It's a recipe scrapbook, with old family recipes and the stories behind them. And she left room in the back so that I can add things to it, which is awesome because hand-copying all of these index cards has been driving me nuts.

You can see the sticky note she inserted here, with the story behind this recipe

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Life kicked in!

Sorry that things have slowed down around here. I started school this week, so I'm a little over-scheduled. School 4 nights a week, and still working at Starbucks 5-6 mornings a week. Eek!

I've been using some of my free time to hand-write all of my recipes on 3x5 index cards. Up until now, they were written mostly on sticky notes and scrap paper and stuck inside of my 1975 Betty Crocker cookbook that I inherited from my maternal grandmother. However, last year my paternal grandmother gave me a recipe box and she started sending me her old recipes. I figured it was time to add my own!

Some of my granny's recipes are 100 years old, and come from HER granny. I promise I'll take the time to share them with you in the coming weeks. The most famous is written below, they are delicious!


-1 cup hot water
-6 Tablespoons shortening
-¼ cup sugar
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 egg, well beaten
-1 package dry yeast
-¼ cup lukewarm water
-3 ½ - 4 cups flour

In a large bowl, pour the hot water over the shortening and stir until the shortening dissolves. Stir in the sugar, set aside and let it cool to lukewarm. Whisk in the salt and egg.

Dissolve the package of yeast into the lukewarm water, add to the shortening mixture.

Gradually stir in enough of the flour to make an easily handled dough, until it forms a ball. Be careful not to add too much flour, you want it sticky. Use the remaining flour to knead the dough until it springs back when touched.

Let dough rest while you wash your bowl and grease it.

Place dough in bowl, then turn it over in the bowl so the top is greased. Cover bowl with wax paper or a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. * Punch down and pinch off 2" balls to form into rolls.

Place rolls in a greased or non-stick pan, fairly close together (like biscuits). Cover and let rise until doubled in size (when they rise, they should be touching).

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 425 for 10-12 minutes. Just before serving, lightly brush the tops with melted butter. Serve hot.

*At this point, dough can be covered and stored in refrigerator for future use. Punch down daily while stored.

Makes 18 – 24 rolls.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Lemon Icing Cookies

1 box lemon cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 c vegetable oil
juice from one lemon

Mix and drop by teaspoonful onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 8 to 9 minutes. Let cool completely. Ice with store bought lemon icing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Peach Mango Sorbet

It's bowl-licking good! (No kidding, I stood over the kitchen sink with a spatula and scraped that sucker clean)

You will need:
-3 large ripe mangos
-3 large ripe peaches
-3/4 c sugar
-Juice of 2 large lemons
-1/4 c corn syrup
-2 c cold water
-1/4 c peach or mango liqueur (or peach or mango vodka, any flavored alcohol will do)

Peel the fruit and cut into large, managable chunks. Toss in a bowl with the lemon juice and sugar, let it sit for about an hour.

Add the fruit and juices from the bowl to your food processor or blender, pulse on a low speed until mashed. With the power on low, slowly add the corn syrup, cold water and alcohol until completely pureed. Transfer to your ice cream maker, follow the instructions and transfer to containers to freeze for at least an hour.

If you don't want to use any alcohol, you can just take it out and add another quarter cup of corn syrup. This will help keep it a little more gooey and not too hard and icy.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Time for a change?

I've been thinking about this blog, and it might be time for a change. My quest to become a Martha Follower has taken me down a different path, and the blog has become much more collaborative over the past few months.

So, leave a comment with new name ideas, and any other changes you think it could use. I'd like to see it become even more of a shared place for recipes, suggestions, improvements, etc...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Key Lime Pie

I'm not sure why we call this pie Key Lime, because there are none in it, but it's still delicious and the name stuck. It's always a hit and there is never any left. I wish I had a picture to post of it....It's the easiest thing in the world to make!

2 graham cracker pie crusts
1 large coolwhip thawed to room temp
1 small frozen limeade
1 can Eagle Brand Milk
few dashes lemon juice
few drops green food coloring
(lime slices for garnish)

Mix together cool whip, limeade, milk, lemon juice and food coloring until completely smooth, no lumps. Put into pie crusts. Top with lime slices in the middle. Refrigerate for several hours.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Orzo salad with dill vinaigrette

This turned out to be a tasty addition to our little backyard party last night! When I first tasted the orzo/vinegerette combination, I was afraid that it wasn't flavorful enough. However, when tossed with the veggies and cheese, it was fantastic!

(The picture comes from Nicolle, who apparently took this shot of the leftovers we sent her home with last night!)

-3/4 lb orzo, cooked al dente
-1/4 c chopped fresh dill
-1/4 c white wine vinegar
-2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
-3 tbsp Dijon mustard
-1/2 c olive oil
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-2 cucumbers, cut into cubes
-1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
-1 pint feta cheese, crumbled

Using a food processor, blender or stick blender, combine the dill, vinegars and mustard together until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil, then salt and pepper, blend again. Toss the dressing with the still-warm orzo, cover and throw into the fridge to chill.

Just before serving, toss the vegetables and feta cheese with the pasta. Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh dill, if desired.

(I encourage you to come up with your own variations - for example, goat cheese instead of feta, or adding bell peppers to up the flavor, or maybe adding tarragon to the dressing. There are a ton of options out there!)

Thursday, April 30, 2009


This is a little time consuming, but super easy! You will need a rotisserie chicken, a bottle of green taco sauce, shredded cheese, and 4 uncooked pie crusts. Shred the chicken and mix it with the entire bottle of taco sauce. Cut out circles in the pie crusts. Place the chicken mixture and cheese in the middle of each circle. Use your fingertip to wet around the edges, fold and seal, then crimp with a wet fork. Bake at 400 degrees on a greased cookie sheet, for about 25 minutes.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Buttermilk Pie

This is a traditional Southern custard pie, my dad's special birthday request.

-4 eggs
-1 c sugar
-2 tbs all-purpose flour
-1/2 c melted butter
-1 1/2 c buttermilk
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 tsp lemon extract
-1/2 tsp salt
-Wondra flour
-Superfine sugar (save your money and just throw regular sugar in the food processor for a minute or two)

In your stand mixer or with a hand beater, whisk the eggs on high for 2 minutes. Slowly add the sugar and flour, and mix for another two minutes. Add the butter, buttermilk, salt and flavor extracts, beat on medium speed for 5 minutes.

Dust the bottom of an uncooked pie crust with a few teaspoons of the Wondra flour, then pour in the custard. Mix together a few teaspoons of the Wondra flour and superfine sugar, then sprinkle over the top. This helps form that yummy nummy crust on top, which sort of has a creme brulee thing going on.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Baked Stuffed Artichokes

The cellphone photo definitely does not do this dish justice!

-2 artichokes, stems and leaves trimmed
-1 whole lemon, quartered
-2 bay leaves
-1/2 c shredded "Italian blend" cheese (whatever you can find in your local grocery store is fine)
-1 tsp dried basil
-1/2 tsp dried rosemary
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-1/4 c bread crumbs
-olive oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil, add artichokes, lemon quarters and bay leaves. Boil for 25 minutes, drain water. Discard lemon and bay leaves.

Cut off the top third of the artichoke, and use a spoon to create a pit in the center. In a small bowl, combine the cheese, herbs and bread crumbs. Spoon into the center of the artichokes, then drizzle with olive oil.

Arrange them in a baking dish so that they will stay upright, and bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake

This is what happens when I have buttermilk in the fridge and it's about to expire. Last weekend, I was totally convinced that Alton Brown's recipe for Orange Blossom Honey Cake containted buttermilk. In a very un-Martha like fashion, I then went out and bought buttermilk without checking the recipe. So of course, I get home, and the recipe doesn't need buttermilk, and I've got a freaking pint of this stuff.

So I made poundcake!

I was a dummy and made this in two loaf pans, when I should have used a bundt. How is it that I don't own a bundt pan? That's negative 5 Martha points for me!

This is absolutely best in a bundt pan, or something ring-shaped, otherwise the edges are too brown and the center takes much longer to cook.
-3 c flour
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-3 c sugar
-1 c butter, at room temperature
-6 eggs, at room temperature
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 tsp lemon extract
(or, up the lemoney goodness by using 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1 1/2 tsp lemon extracts)
-Zest of one lemon
-1 1/8 c buttermilk

Set your oven to 325, grease and flour your pan(s).

Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together into a bowl, set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl (or stand mixer) for about 5 minutes on medium-high speed. Lower your speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time. When the eggs are totally incorporated, add the extracts and lemon zest.

Set the mixer to low and slowly add the flour mixture and buttermilk, a little at a time, alternating as you go.

Pour the batter into your pan(s) and bake in the center of the oven. 60 minutes was enough for my two loaf pans, you will need a little less for a bundt. Check the center with a toothpick at around 45 minutes to get a sense of how much longer you have to go without burning the edges.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Corned Beef And Cabbage

Of course, we had to have this dish today! I go to the deli and have them shave a pound of corned beef. Then I buy an onion, and a large head of cabbage. Cut everything up, cook with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and black pepper. Delicious!


Happy St. Pat's!

Saint Patrick's day is a celebration in my house, Ryan and I started dating two years ago today. We had been talking on the phone long-distance for almost 5 weeks when I invited him to a little St Pat's party that I was throwing. Ryan showed up on my doorstep with flowers after driving all the way to Houston from Fort Worth, and the rest is history. As for the party? It turns out that nobody could make it, and I did NOT know how to cook Irish food.

Since Ryan and I have a weird tradition of having holiday-shaped pasta on the "little" holidays, I am giving up on cooking Irish food tonight in lieu of shamrock pasta with turkey meatballs and Therese's special red sauce. Bottoms up!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fantastic fajitas!

So easy, I'm not even going to break it down recipe-style.

-Season a skirt steak w/ salt and pepper
-Cut 1/2 red onion into long strips
-Cut about 3 red/green/etc peppers into long strips
-Finely chop 1 jalapeno (seeds or not, your choice!)
-Toss all peppers in bowl with a teaspoon of cumin, a teaspoon of chili powder and a quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper
-Throw onion and steak into very hot skillet w/ a few tablespoons of vegetable oil to coat the pan
-Sear steak for 2 minutes on each side, remove from pan
-Lower heat, sautee onions, add peppers, cover pan and let steam on med-low heat
-Cut steak into thin strips, on the bias
-Throw steak back into pan, cook it all together for about 5 minutes
-Serve with tortillas and whatever fixings you please!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Warm Chinese Chicken Salad

This is a combination of a few different recipes, I just made it up with what we love. It is so yummy and EASY! We had it for dinner this past Tuesday. It's only my second time to make it, but I am sure I will make it again and again. Here are the ingredients:

2 cups cooked, chopped chicken
1/2 bottle Stir Fry Sauce
4 green onions, chopped
1 bag shredded cabbage/carrot mix
2 handfuls of cashews

Cook all in a pan for 5 - 6 minutes, until cabbage just starts to wilt. Serve immediately. This will serve 2 with a tiny bit left over.

(Thank you Emily for inviting me to contribute to this blog. My recipes and cooking don't even compare to yours....but I am thrilled that you asked me!)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"Make it up as you go along" Beef Stew

Special thanks to Becky for giving me some ideas!

This is an easy crock pot recipe, just prep the night before and let it cook in the crock pot all day.

-1 pound of stew meat
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1/4 c flour
-4 tbsp vegetable oil
-1 small or 1/2 large red onion, finely diced
-1 packet of pre-made beef stew seasoning
-1 tsp garlic salt
-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
-2 c water
-3 or 4 large carrots
-3 turnips
-2 large bay leaves
-1 large can of diced tomatoes
-3 or 4 celery stalks, chopped
-1 bottle of beer (the darker, the better)

Start by mixing together the flour, salt and pepper into a medium prep bowl. Toss the beef in the flour mix. Add the oil to a large, deep sautee pan and put over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the meat and onion to the pan and sear for at least 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and the beef is browned on all sides. Add the water, seasoning packet, garlic salt and cayenne pepper to the pan and let it come to a low boil for at least 5 minutes.

Prep the rest of the veggies by cutting them into large, manageable chunks. Add the veggies, can of tomatoes (with juice), beer and bay leaves to the crock pot. Slowly pour in the stew meat mixture. Mix well, set the crock pot to low heat and cook for at least 6 hours.

When I came home on Tuesday afternoon, my whole house smelled like beef was fantastic!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My new favorite thing

I have been cooking in dutch ovens non-stop. I need to pick up a few that aren't coated w/ enamel, though, because we've been lighting a fire almost every night and I want to try baking bread in the fireplace.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chocolate cupcakes: you know you want one

Admit it, you know you do.

To make these cupcakes special, I used hazelnut coffee to enhance the flavor of the chocolate and add a little nuttiness (since we all know I'm a little bit nutty). The frosting is adapted from Ina Garten's peanut butter frosting recipe, using Nutella!

Chocolate cupcakes:

-12 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
-2/3 c white sugar
-2/3 c brown sugar, packed
-2 eggs, at room temperature
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-1 c buttermilk, or 3/4 c milk mixed with 1/4 c plain yogurt
-1/2 c sour cream, low-fat or fat-free is fine
-2 tbsp brewed coffee (try different flavors!)
-1 3/4 c flour
-1 c cocoa powder
-1 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line the cupcake pans with paper (skip if you have silicone)

Using your stand mixer, mix the butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and then the flour mixture. Mix only until blended.

Divide the batter among the cupcake pans, bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Nutella Frosting:

1 to 2 c confectioners' sugar
1/4 c cocoa powder
1 c Nutella
8 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

Microwave the Nutella for about 30 seconds so it is soft and managable.

Add 1 cup of the confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, Nutella, butter, vanilla, and salt to your stand mixer. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth. If your frosting is too thin, add the last cup of powdered sugar, a little at a time, until it is the texture you desire. Let it sit out for several minutes to finish setting before you frost your cupcakes.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday is make your own applesauce day!

Trust me, you will never buy applesauce from a jar again! I made this for our Christmas dinner and my husband was shocked to learn that you don't need to run it through a food processor, the apples naturally crumble into a sauce as you boil them. One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it's older than time, it originally came from my grandmother's Betty Crocker cookbook that was given to me after she died. I have modified it some, reducing the sugar and turning up the dial on the spice.

Please, I encourage you to experiment with the amount of sugar and spices that work best for you - as long as the apple-to-water ratio remains the same, you will end up with an applesauce that has a delightful texture and thickness.

-4 or 5 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
-1/2 c water
-1/3 c brown sugar (you can add more if you want it sweet)
-1 tsp ground cinnamon
-1 tsp ground clove
-1 tsp ground nutmeg
-1 whole cinnamon stick

Bring the water and apples to a boil over medium heat in a saucepan. Bring the heat down to low and let the apples simmer for around 20 minutes, stirring often. The apples will begin to soften and become mushy. When the apples have completely disintegrated, stir in the sugar, spices and cinnamon stick. Bring the heat to it's lowest setting, cover the saucepan, and let it simmer for another 30 minutes, again stirring occasionally.

This applesauce is best when served warm, and you can keep it in the fridge for 7 to 10 days.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Leftover casserole: Part 2

Okay so it's really more of a pot pie...minus the pie crust part. None of these measurements are accurate - except the stock+soup combo because you don't want it to be too thin or you'll just end up with mush.

This comes from my mom, who used to make a similar dish with frozen peas and carrots (don't bother cooking, just dump frozen into the soup mixture and they'll cook in the oven). Also, I'm pretty sure she used cream of celery but I didn't have any.

-Cut up leftover roasted chicken into small pieces
-Peel and dice some carrots you find in the bottom of your fridge
-Ditto for a few potatoes in the pantry
-Throw in some celery for good measure, cutting off sketchy looking bits
-Toss the above with pepper and paprika

-Defrost a half-cup of chicken stock from the freezer and mix with a can of cream of mushroom soup that you find in the back of the pantry
-Stir in chicken and veggies
-Dump the whole thing into a casserole dish (I used a 9"x9")

-Mix a package of Jiffy corn bread according to the instructions on the box, only add two extra tablespoons of milk so it's slightly thin
-Slowly pour on top of chicken/veggie/soup mix

-Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes

The cornbread will "float" on top of the filling, which results in this great "crusty on the top, mushy on the bottom" texture that just can't be beat!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Roast Lamb with Rosemary and Garlic

This was the highlight of our Christmas dinner - I ordered enough lamb for 4 people and by the end of the meal we were all wishing I had purchased more.

Since I have no idea how to butterfly and tie a crown roast, I left it to an expert: a small, family-run butcher shop in Granbury.

MM: I used a probe themometor that you can pre-set to your desired internal temperature and just leave on while the roast bakes - it worked like a charm! No figuring out the mintues per pound, or pulling it out to test every few minutes. Just set the themometor and walk away!


-2 racks of lamb, butterflied and tied into a crown shape.
-6 cloves garlic, minced (or just run it through a garlic press)
-1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
-3 tbsp rosemary leaves, chopped
-3 tsp thyme, chopped (you can used dried but honestly it's just not as good as fresh)
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper

In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients together. Rub generously all over the lamb.

Put your roast into a bundt pan (if you have one), or some sort of round baking vessel so it will hold it's shape. I used an uncovered dutch oven. Bake at 375 until the internal temperature is 130 degrees (or 8-12 minutes per pound). Remove from the oven, put the roast into a separate pan, cover with foil, and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.


-Pan drippings from lamb
-2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
-1 tsp Dijon mustard

Spoon the drippings into a gravy separator to remove the fat. Whisk in the vinegar and mustard, then strain out any remaining solids. Serve warm with the crown roast.

If you don't have enough sauce, feel free to add more vinegar and mustard, and maybe even some olive oil to the mix.