Sunday, May 30, 2010

Kitchen Tip #1

I've been bombarding you all with recipes, but did you know more than just recipes lives inside this cook's brain? I've learned a lot of tips over the years from Food Network, other cooks, my Gram, etc etc. Here's a tip for you.

Tired of onions making you cry? Stick your onion in the freezer for 10-15 minutes (bigger onion, more time) before you chop it up. You won't be covered in the juicy onion while you're chopping, or sobbing like The Notebook is on while you're trying to cook. :)

Happy chopping!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Better Potato Salad? Just add Bacon!

I love bacon. It's a simple but true fact that I literally eat it daily. Crunched on top of salads, crumbled into my omelets, sometimes stolen right out of the pan as I'm cooking it. It's my bacon-given right as the chef - or so I tell my husband as I steal it all. :) Here's a new twist on a summertime classic - potato salad. Just add the bacon!

Creamy Bacon Potato Salad

  • 5 hardboiled eggs*
  • 4 slices crispy bacon (i prefer the center cut!)
  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • 3 stalks of celery, minced
  • 2 pounds of small red potatoes
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • salt & pepper

Place the potatoes in a large pot with enough water to just cover the potatoes completely. Bring them to a boil, cook for 20 minutes and then drain them and let them cool. Peel the eggs, place them in a large bowl and mash them to little bits with a fork. Stir in the celery, mustard, mayo, salt and pepper. When combined, crumble 3 pieces of the crispy bacon into the mayo mixture and set aside.

Chop the potatoes into bite-sized pieces and stir into the mayo mixture until well coated. Garnish with the rest of the bacon crumbled on top with the parsley. Best cool or at room temperature - let it sit for a bit so the flavors can combine!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Party Punch

Sure, you can drag out the coolers of beer but I find that every great party has a signature cocktail. During the warm WARM WARM summer months in lovely Texas, I've got the perfect party drink - with or without the "sauce".

Chill Out Punch
  • 1 cup superfine or granulated sugar
  • 2 packages of Strawberry Jello mix (sugar free or regular)
  • 1 - 46 ounce can of pineapple juice (use the real thing!)
  • 1 quart of no-pulp orange juice
  • 2/3 cup lemon or lime juice (they both taste great)
  • 2 -2 liter bottles of Sprite Zero at room temperature
  • 6 cups of drinking water

In a large saucepan, combine the strawberry jello packages, water, and sugar. Stir until combined over high heat until the mixture boils. Let it boil for three minutes before turning off the heat and removing the pan from the hot burner. Stir in the pineapple, orange, and lemon or lime juice and stir together. Let it cool and divide it into two separate containers and then freeze for at least 4 hours. When you're ready to serve it, turn one frozen container out into a punch bowl and then pour 1 liter of Sprite Zero directly over the frozen block. When it turns slushy, stir the contents together and enjoy!

To make this beverage a bit more adult, simply add in a cup..or two..or three of vodka. It won't change the flavor but if you end up looking for your pants in the morning, it isn't my fault.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What says Memorial Day Weekend like a BBQ?

I love to BBQ. Before Mr. Man's parents bought us a grill as a birthday present - I was the lone griller in the house. I weilded the grill tongs like a master, a black belt in proper BBQ etiquette. My dear husband apparently became the master griller the second we bought the grill, but I still marinade, chop, butterfly, and flip my way to burger freedom. To me, meat on the grill with your friends - it doesn't get any better.

Simple Burgers

  • 1lb. ground chuck beef (at least 10% fat - you NEED the fat!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Mix the spices into the burgers with your hands without overmixing! You want to loosely divide the meat into four burgers (or eight sliders!) that are roughly the same size so they will grill in the same amount of time. Only press the meat together so it forms a burger (do not pack it like a snowball or it will be rough and dry!). Grill on medium heat, flipping only once!

Thursday, May 20, 2010


There are few things in life better than a good pancake. Here in Austin, we have the wonder of Kerbey Lane who serves the world's most amazing pancakes (and queso but that's another recipe). When I'm not in the mood to roll my crazy haired, sleep-faced self out of bed and go fight the bible beaters for my pancakes - I make these at home.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg white
- Cooking spray
- 3/4 cup maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons butter

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.

Whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, egg, and egg white. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Heat a nonstick griddle or nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto griddle. Turn pancakes over when tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Devour with syrup and butter, glaring repeatedly at anyone who you think is taking your share. :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I heart breakfast.

I do love breakfast. If I happen to wake up at 1pm - I still want breakfast. I simply cannot imagine LUNCH as the first meal of the day. Why on earth would I want a salad when I could have BREAKFAST? :) If you share my love of the A.M. meals - I've got a doozy for you. Sour Cream Coffee Cake. It's like dessert and breakfast all in one!

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

- 3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (divided)
- Cooking spray
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, divided
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 (8-ounce) carton light sour cream
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts, toasted
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon chilled butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take a dry baking sheet and sprinkle the oats out on it, and bake until the oats are light brown - usually about 5-6 minutes.

Coat a 9" springform pan with baking spray and set aside. Reserve 1/4 cup oats and set aside. Place remaining oats in a food processor; process 4 seconds or until finely ground. Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Whisk together processed oats, flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, combine the granulated sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1/3 cup butter and beat with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, and then vanilla and beat until combined. Next, add the flour mixture & sour cream into the sugar mixture in 2-3 separate additions, alternating between adding the flour and sour cream. (Start and end with flour!) Place batter in prepared pan (it's okay for it to be a little lumpy).

Combine remaining 1/4 cup oats, remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, nuts, and cinnamon in a bowl. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until well blended. Sprinkle top of batter evenly with nut mixture. Bake at 350° for 38 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, top is golden, and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes; remove from pan and devour. :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Most Important Meal of the Day

I love breakfast. Mainly pancakes, but since I've been trying to low carb it a bit - our household's become huge fans of the frittata. In case you too are trying to surprise your out-of-town friends with just how darn skinny you've gotten in their absence - I present my Ham and Asparagus Frittata. So darn delicious, you'll be doubly thrilled that it helps you get into your skinny jeans.

Ham and Asparagus Frittata

- 2/3 cup chopped 33%-less-sodium ham
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded low-fat Jarlsberg cheese (mmm)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 large egg whites
- 2 large eggs
- Cooking spray
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper
- 1/2 cup (1-inch) slices asparagus
- 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Preheat your broiler and wrap the handle of your pan in foil.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together your eggs, egg whites, ham, cheese, black pepper and salt. Then heat your skillet (I use a 9" pan) over medium heat and coat it with cooking spray like you're hosing out a fire. Do you want all your hard work stuff to the pan?

Add in the bell pepper, onion and asparagus and saute for 3-4 minutes until everything is softened and delicious. Add in your egg mixture and cook, covered for about 3-4 minutes or until it's just a little jiggly and not quite set. Sprinkle the Italian seasoning on top. Place your pan (foil covered handle and all!) into the broiler for 2-3 minutes. This moves REALLY fast, so don't walk away!

Remove it from the broiler when the eggs have set and cut into four wedges. Let it cool a bit and enjoy! :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Spicy and delicious!

My husband is Jew-ish. No, that's not a typo. Technically, he was raised Jewish but in time, his kosher ways have relaxed and well, he loves the pork. Bacon especially, but a good pork cutlet will not go to waste with this man around. I like to change it up a little but here's my recipe for Spicy Italian Pork Cutlets. I don't find them to be especially spicy, but if you do - feel free to nix the red pepper flakes. It'll still be delicious!

Spicy Italian Pork Cutlets

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • 4 boneless pork cutlets (or chops, beaten to about 1/3" thick)

  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1 can, 14oz fire roasted dice tomatoes

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon dried sage

  • 3 tablespoons, minced Italian parsley

  • 1/4 cup dry white whine

  • 1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth

  • salt and pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a large skillet, heat up two tablespoons on the olive oil. Salt and pepper the cutlets, and place them into the pan - searing on both sides before removing and setting aside on a paper towel. Add the rest of the oil in the pan, and saute the garlic for about 20-30 seconds before adding in the rest of the ingredients and stirring together. Let this cook for about 3-4 minutes or until it thickens into more of a sauce.

Add the cutlets back into the sauce, and continue cooking for 5-7 minutes or until done. Pork dries out quickly so be careful! Plate up the pork cutlet and serve with the tomato sauce over the top of it, with a bit more of the minced parsley for decoration. You're done!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Yes, you can make pudding from a box with some milk - but no one's ever going to write sonnets to your existence with that sort of effort. Yes, the way to your friend's hearts (and your loved ones too) is solely through the stomach. Start with this pudding. I personally hate whipped cream but it's a nice touch if you like it. Don't you dare use the stuff in a jar after all this effort!

Chocolate Pudding
  • 2 cups whole milk (yeah, i know.)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 4 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream

Start by heating 1 1/2 cups of the milk, all the sugar, and all the cocoa over medium high heat until it reaches a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, pour the remainder of the milk and add the cornstarch, salt, egg yolks and vanilla and whisk together. Next, temper the cornstarch mixture by SLOWLY adding the hot milk and whisking. Return to the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat whisking constantly until the pudding has come to a full boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low to a simmer, and keep whisking for 2-3 minutes until the pudding thickens.

Pour the pudding into 5-6 small cups and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight until set.

If you're a whipped cream loving heathen - pour the whipped cream into a chilled bowl and starting on low, use a hand mixer and beat the whipped cream until soft peaks form and then stop immediately - if you overbeat it, it will become grainy. It's done! Enjoy!

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's all Greek to me!

I think Greece is astonishingly beautiful and had the flight been shorter - would have been a prime contender for our honeymoon. The white buildings against the beautiful blue ocean just evoke a feeling of peace and the sun warming your skin. So, take a bowl of this relaxing salad and sit outside and it'll just be our little secret that we're not in Greece mkay?

Greek Salad

  • 1 hothouse/English cucumber - unpeeled, and sliced 1/4" thick

  • 1 red bell pepper, diced

  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1/2 red onion, diced

  • 8 ounces feta cheese, diced

  • 1/2 cup pitted calamata olives (optional if you're a hater like me!)


  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Cut all the vegetables and add to mixing bowl. In smaller bowl, whisk together garlic, oregano, mustard, salt, pepper, and vinegar together until combined. Still whisking, slowly add in the olive oil until thoroughly combined. Pour over the vegetables and toss lightly to coat. Add in olives and feta and toss gently until combined. Set aside for 30-45 minutes until flavors have combined. (Best served at room temp!)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Summertime salads

I tend to eat healthier in the summertime (aside from my love of ice cream), so over the years I've accumulated many recipes for summertime salads. This spicy corn salad is zesty and refreshing all in one!

Spicy Corn Salad

  • 1 -14 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups, frozen corn
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce (Tabasco or Texas Pete both work well!)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Simply mix everything together and the bowl and let it sit for at least 15 minutes for all the ingredients and flavors to blend together. Tastes delicious chilled or room temperature.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

World's Best Carrot Cake!

  • Ever since Aaron and I had the most delicious Kerbey Lane Carrot Cake - we've been pretty addicted. Never a huge carrot cake fan, I don't know about the sudden addiction to carrot cake but in case you have it too - try this one :)

    The World's Most Delicious Carrot Cake
  • Unsalted butter to grease the pan
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 12 ounces grated carrots
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 ounces of plain yogurt
  • 6 ounces of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup, chopped walnuts
Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9" round and 3" deep cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and set it aside. Put the carrots into a large mixing bowl and set aside. Put the flour, baking power, baking soda, spices, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process for 5 seconds. Add this mixture to the carrots and toss until well-coated.

In the bowl of the food processor, combine the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and yogurt. Mix until combined and while running, drizzle in vegetable oil. Pour sugar mixture into the carrot mixture and stir until just combined. Add walnuts Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes in the pan, before turning the cake out onto a rack and letting it cool completely.

While cooling - make the cream cheese frosting below!

In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter and mix on medium until just blended. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. With the speed on low, add the powdered sugar in batches and beat until smooth. Put the frosting in the refrigerator for 10 minutes before using.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Time for a little dessert...

I love dessert. It's a fact of life that I can't escape. I love the sweets. In the summertime, I love to take advantage of the fresh fruit and make delicious crumbles that melt in your mouth and enhhance the flavors of the summer. Here's one of my favorites!

Peach and Strawberry Crumble


  • 1 pound of medium strawberries, tops removed & cut in half
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 pounds yellow peaches - peeled, pitted & sliced
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar


  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour (whole wheat works well too!)
  • 2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, chilled & cut into cubes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 x 8 glass baking dish and set it aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and flour until smooht. Add the strawberries, peaches, and brown sugar. Gently toss until the fruit is coated and then pour the fruit mixture in the prepared pan.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, oats, almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Pulse until mixed and then add the butter. Pulse until the butter is about the size of peas. Sprinkle the mixture over the filling and bake for 40-45 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Let it cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. (may I suggest some nice vanilla ice cream?)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lemon cookies

My husband loves all things lemon. Which I find strange and slightly freakish but I use to my advantage when I feel like baking but can't be trusted not to eat the final results. For this, we have lemon cookies. They're a basic variation on sugar cookies but with a boatload of mouth-delighting lemony goodness.

Lemon Cookies

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup of butter (room temp or softened in the microwave)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons, finely grated lemon peel

In a small mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together 1 cup of the sugar and the melted butter until combined. Add in the egg, lemon juice, and zest and mix together until just combined. Next, gradually blend in the flour mixture.

Take out two piece of waxed paper and spoon half the dough onto each. Roll into a log with the paper and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (I did two and it worked perfectly!)

After your dough has firmed up, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Unwrap 1 log of your cookie dough and cut into slices about 1/4" thick. Sprinkle with a little of the remaining sugar and place onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until LIGHTLY brown around the edges.

Enjoy! (or let your husband ;) )