Sunday, September 26, 2010

Healthified Waffles??

Somehow I knew Saturday night that I would want some yummy waffles Sunday morning! I was browsing before bed (yes, while I had my burnt finger stuck in a cup of ice water) and found this recipe. It seemed very easy and suggested making the night ahead and putting in the fridge- perfect! The boyfriend gave me a "SERIOUSLY?!" look when I turned the mixer on again (he hates the noise AND was stunned that I was already back in the kitchen). But it only took 5 minutes to whip the ingredients together. Sunday morning I heated up the waffle iron and we were good to go! I added a mashed up banana to mine-delicious! I didn't even mention to the bf that these were "healthified" with whole wheat flour and applesauce. hehe :) Next time I'll try using all whole wheat flour and maybe some splenda.

The bf is never too happy with the sogginess of the waffles this waffle iron produces though. It was a cheap waffle iron from Target, and it really is BAD. We use it so infrequently though, that its not really worth buying another one right now. Anyone have a better waffle maker they would recommend that won't break the bank? I much prefer waffles to pancakes!

Waffle recipe
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour (I used 1 whole wheat, 1 all purpose)
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil ( I used 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce)
  • 1-2 TSP sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • sprinkle of nutmeg
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1/2-1 tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 bananas, mashed (optional)
In a large bowl, beat eggs until fluffy. Add other ingredients until smooth. Spray preheated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray.Cook until golden brown. YUM!

Oops, I made a mess!

Sonny wanted to know if he could have one...

They do look pretty darn delicious, don't they?

Orangina and Orange Julius (our clown fish) have been feeling left out lately...

Oh and I'm trying out G's Nikon D60 to get some better photos. Just not happy with my "point and shoot"- what do you think?

Caramel Ice Cream- Take two!

Since my first caramel ice cream recipe failed, Frieda over at Lovin' from the Oven, graciously sent me a much better recipe to try! Saturday night the bf was feeling a little under the weather, so we stayed home from our date night and it was the perfect opportunity to try it out. Unfortunately, about halfway through this recipe I badly burned myself and became glued to the sink with my hand under the faucet. The bf took over where I left off while I yelled read the directions to him from the sink-I'd come too far to give up! haha It really was silly of me, now that I look back on it. He was like "How's your hand? Who cares about the stupid ice cream?!", but I insisted he persevere and finish out the recipe. It was just a little more hectic because my accident happened during the critical time of melting the caramel (read: almost BOILING SUGAR) and mixing in the cream/eggs, etc. Anyway, he did a good job, but I kept screaming lovingly saying things like "Pour SLOWER!", "NOT the whisk!!"and "turn the burner down!" haha well I have to say this ice cream was much better than the other one! Not sure if I have a permanent Sous chef or if it was worth a badly burned finger though. :( The bf gobbled it up and said it was MUCH better than the last caramel ice cream, but he thought it was too rich to eat on its own. He suggested mixing it with the vanilla bean I normally make. Hmmm... We'll see. I kind of have my heart set on a cookie dough or cookies and cream ice cream next time...yum yum!

Salted Caramel Praline (To mix in)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt (NOT table salt)
Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or grease lightly with vegetable oil. In a heavy-bottom skillet, spread sugar in an even layer. Heat over medium until edges begin to melt, use a heat-proof spatula to push the melted edges in towards the middle. Stir gently until all sugar is dissolved. Cook, stirring infrequently, until sugar starts to smoke (I had a hard time telling if it was smoking or not, but figured out this step is right before it boils. DO NOT let the sugar boil or it will get a burnt taste.) Caramel will be the color of an old copper penny. Quickly sprinkle sea salt over caramel without stirring. Pour caramel onto prepared baking sheet, turning sheet to spread thinly. Set aside to cool and harden.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 TBSP salted butter ( I only had unsalted)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
Make an ice bath by filling a large bowl 1/3 full with ice cubes and about 1 cup water (ice cubes should be floating in the water). Nestle a smaller, 2 quart bowl on top of ice. Pour 1 cup cold milk into bowl and place mesh strainer over top.

Spread 1 1/2 cups sugar in a heavy-bottom skillet in an even layer. Heat over medium until edges begin to melt, use a heat-proof spatula to push the melted edges in towards the middle.

Stir gently until all sugar is dissolved. Cook, stirring infrequently, until sugar starts to smoke (I had a hard time telling if it was smoking or not, but figured out this step is right before it boils. DO NOT let the sugar boil or it will get a burnt taste.) Caramel will be the color of an old copper penny. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and salt. (This is where I burnt myself on HOT HOT caramel when I added the butter. Add butter CAREFULLY!). Stir until completely melted. Gradually whisk in the cream, stirring constantly. If the caramel begins to harden, return pan to heat and continue stirring until melted. Stir in 1 cup milk. Whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl. Slowly add about 1 cup of caramel mixture into yolks, whisking constantly. Slowly add yolk/caramel mixture back into saucepan. Cook custard until it coats the back of a spoon and you can draw a line down the back of a spoon without custard running into it. Pour the custard through the strainer into the milk in the ice bath and add vanilla. Stir until mixture has cooled down.Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker for about 30 minutes.

While it is freezing, crumble praline bits in a large plastic bag with a rolling pin.
Sprinkle in bits after ice cream is churned. Pour into container with lid and freeze until firm (2-4 hours). While you're eating it, the tiny caramel bits will melt and add a nice ooey-gooey texture to your ice cream! Enjoy!

Like I said before, I love my ice cream maker, but it does have to washed by hand. :(
Sonny volunteered to wash it for me, but I figured licking it clean wouldn't be too sanitary...
For the brave, posted last are a few photos of my sugar burn Sunday morning. It's OK- when I'm eating this ice cream I forget that my finger hurts! :)

Hope you had a great weekend!

Fiesta Salad

In my post about the Longhorn Cookies, I mentioned that my friend Alice and I also made this salad that evening. I found this recipe on Baked Bree and I loooooove it! It's SO fresh, delicious and easy! Both Alice and the bf agreed that this was a must-make-again recipe!

You can add/subtract whatever toppings you like. Yummm can't wait to make this again soon!

Honey Lime Dressing
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 2 TBSP white vinegar
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup EVOO

Put everything in a bowl, except olive oil, and whisk until combined. While whisking, slowly poor in EVOO and whisk until smooth. Feel free to add more of any ingredient to fit your taste. We added a tiny bit more honey. :) Set aside. Whisk lightly again before you serve.

Fiesta Chicken Salad
Serves 4 adults
  • 1 head of Romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • half of a red onion, sliced thin (I used 1/4 since I am not a big red onion fan)
  • 2 ears of boiled/grilled corn (or bag of thawed frozen corn)
  • half a bunch of cilantro (or more if you love cilantro!)
  • tomatoes (I omitted)
  • grilled chicken (lightly seasoned or marinated. I grabbed some chipotle lime marinated chicken from CM and roasted per Bree's recipe here)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • tortilla chips, crushed
  • Bree's beans (Heat 2 TBSP EVOO in a pan, toss in 3 minced cloves of garlic, add 1 can drained/rinsed black beans and 1 TBSP oregano ( I used fresh). Cook until thoroughly heated and set aside.)

Put everything except chips and beans into large bowl.

Toss and add a little dressing at a time until it fits your taste. Add the chips and beans on top right before you serve so it doesn't get soggy.

Dinner is ready! I served with some cheese quesadillas since I had a bunch of fresh tortillas from CM. Sorry my pictures are so bad! They really do not do this salad justice! :) You must make this soon.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Longhorn Sugar Cookie Cutouts

Last night my friend Alice came over for a big event- cookie making! Alice loves baking just as much as I do so it's always so fun to get together and make a new cupcake/cookie/muffin recipe! Since we are both UT alumni and still big fans- we had our little burnt-orange hearts set on making some Longhorn cookies!

I was elated to discover I still had an (expired) rebate card for the Co-Op- that they graciously honored for me! I stocked up with a Longhorn cookie cutter, Texas cookbook (Can't wait to flip through this weekend!), silicone Longhorn baking pan and an adorable teeny UT jersey for my parent's dog, Jackson.

(Can't you just imagine him cheering on UT from the couch?)

Let me just say that it was a LONG evening. First we got started making Fiesta Salad (Recipe coming soon!). We took a break to watch the premiere of the Office and then started whipping up cookie dough and icing. By the end of the night, a cloud of powdered sugar had settled over the kitchen and my feet were aching from standing bent over the counter with a bag of icing in my hand. But it was fun- really! We did get a couple quizzical looks from the boyfriend, who asked "Why are ya'll doing this?" haha Might I add that he did not complain when he was sampling.

Anyway, on to the yummy part. The cookie recipe we used was from Alice's mom and I used Mrs. Humble's royal icing recipe and instructions. Try not to judge our icing skills- this was a decent first attempt, in my opinion anyway. In the end, some cookies were not fully iced since we ran out of time/patience, but I think now that we know what method works best, the process will be more streamlined next time. I do have to say... they are delicious and the bf agreed! He was a Texas Tech Raider but still managed to wrangle a few burnt orange cookies into his mouth. :)

Traditional Sugar Cookies
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 3 TBSP whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 400. Sift together all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Cut in butter until mixture is blended and looks like well-blended particles (I sliced the butter into pieces, added to flour mixture and blended with paddle attachment ). Add egg, cream and vanilla, beating until smooth and dough comes together. Divide dough into 2 balls and put 1 in the fridge to chill. Use this dough once the first ball gets too soft/warm from squishing scraps back together.

Roll out on a lightly floured surface until pretty thin (1/8").

And go to town with your cookie cutter!

Place on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat/parchment paper.

Place tray in fridge/freezer for about 5 minutes. Place cold tray directly in hot oven. This will keep the dough from spreading and losing its shape! (Thanks Mrs. Humble for this tip!) Cook 5-8 minutes or until lightly browned or appear firm. We had some trouble with our horns getting crispy at first, so we only did about 5 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack and you're ready to ice!

Mrs. Humble's Royal Icing
  • 1 lb. powdered sugar
  • 5 TBSP meringue powder
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tsp water
  • couple drops of almond extract
  • food coloring, if desired
Mix in bowl until smooth. Icing will be very thick. If you pull your spoon out, it should leave a stiff peak that does not immediately sink back into the icing. Divide into bowls to add food coloring, if desired. Transfer to icing bags/decorating bottles. Pipe a very thin border around your cookies or whatever design you want to make.

The outlines need to dry for about 10 minutes before you fill them in, so keep outlining as many cool cookies as you can get your hands on. After you've done all the outlines you can thin your icing with a tiny bit of water (add only a few drops at a time). When you pull your spoon out and the peaks immediately sink back into the icing, you're ready to roll. "Flood" the middle of your outline with the thinned icing. Go easy! Spread to the edges with a toothpick/skewer/whatever you have (I could only find a plastic knife). Let dry for several hours or they will squish when you try to stack them.

I HATE having things sit out across all the kitchen counters, so it drove me crazy to leave these out overnight, but I just packed them up when I dropped Sonny off after our run this morning. I have to warn you this makes a LOT of cookies. I filled a whole container for work, Alice took a HEAPING plate home, I left a few for my roommate and I filled G's whole cookie jar! Next time probably best to freeze half the dough!

All in all- delicious and a great way to celebrate a UT victory this weekend (knock on wood- I don't want to jinx it or anything).

Hook 'em!

Update- I brought these to work and asked for feedback- this is what I heard:
  • Yummy
  • Cookie was not as crunchy as it looked- nice surprise!
  • hard icing goes well with soft cookie
  • perfect game-time finger food
  • so cute
  • Is this frosting lemony? (I think it was just the almond extract and loads of sugar playing tricks)
  • tastes like cookie bouquet cookies!
Only one anti-UT fan refused to eat them...even when I offered up one that had its horns broken off...haha

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My New Helper

I forgot to include a note about my special helper in my post about Wednesday night's dinner. G is "babysitting" my friend S's dog, Sonny, for a couple days. He is soooo good and sweet! I think Sonny really wanted some chicken because while it was baking he kept going over to the oven and looking in- sorry big guy!

(This was taken a couple months ago- before his haircut!)

The past couple mornings I've gone over to G's place to take Sonny out for a run and he has been so protective of G - he thought I was an intruder yesterday! After running for about an hour, he was ready to play- although G was ready to go back to sleep! Here is a funny video the bf took after I dropped Sonny back at his place yesterday.

Here are the boys hanging out after dinner. He CANNOT stop talking about what a good dog he is!

(I couldn't get rid of the red-eye- he's not evil I swear!)

For those of you wondering, Sonny is a goldendoodle!

S- I think G will keep Sonny as long as you let him! :) Now only if I can teach Sonny to do the dishes...

What's for dinner? Sticky Chicken!

I know this is mainly a dessert blog, but I cooked dinner last night so I thought I'd share it. It got a double thumbs up from the bf so I'll probably make it again soon.

I got out of work early so I hit up Central Market for some fresh groceries. I know not everyone prefers to shop at a Whole Foods/Central Market because it can be a bit pricey, but I really notice a difference in the freshness and quality of the food there. The meat is especially one thing that I'm hesitant to buy at HEB and probably will not do again if I can avoid it. Example- I made a lasagna about a month ago (with 100% fresh or organic ingredients from CM) that was dubbed "the best lasagna I've ever had." I remade it about 2 weeks ago with ingredients from HEB (read: not so fresh mozzarella and definitely not fresh ground sausage) and it was AWFUL. I mean the boy barely touched it, and I don't blame him. The meat was lumpy and way too strong for my taste. I normally do not eat sausage, but it blended in well with the flavors in the first lasagna. Next time I make it I'll be back at CM!

Anyway, I decided to try something new with some ingredients I knew I already had at home. After some digging on I found this recipe, originally titled "Caramelized Baked Chicken." Mine was really sticky so I renamed my version "Sticky Chicken." I also made some roasted potatoes (per my own made up recipe) and green beans with a simple garlic butter sauce. Recipes below

Sticky Chicken
  • 2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You can really use wings/thighs/anything you want
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2+ TBSP ketchup
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch
  • salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375. Place chicken breasts in 9x13 pan (I used a smaller one since I only made 2 breasts). Heat other ingredients in saucepan over medium-high heat until sauce boils and thickens. Pour over chicken and bake for 45min-1 hour, or until sauce looks caramely. Easy peasy!

M's roasted potatoes:

  • 2 small potatoes per person (I used red, but gold work too)
  • 1-2 TBSP EVOO
  • fresh chopped herbs (or dried). I used fresh rosemary and oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375. Slice potatoes into rounds and then cut in half again.

Toss in large plastic bag with rest of ingredients.

Oil a baking sheet ( do not use foil) and spread potatoes in single layer.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, flipping potatoes halfway through. I just popped these on the bottom rack of the oven under the chicken for the last 40ish minutes. Keep them in longer if you like them more crispy.

Sweet and Garlicky Green Beans

  • 1/2 -1lb. Fresh (or frozen) green beans, depending on # of people
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1/2-1 tsp fresh lemon juice
After you snap off the ends of the green beans and wash thoroughly, boil for about 4 minutes (or you can steam for about 8 minutes).

In a saucepan, heat butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until tender (1-2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in sugar, pepper and lemon juice. Toss with green beans and serve.

Like I said before, the bf really liked this one. In fact, he thanked me for dinner about 5 times and then I got a couple more texts after I got home! :)

I'm always looking for more chicken/easy dinner recipes, so please pass along your favorites!!


The Chocolate Sack

OK so let my preface this post by saying that the chocolate sack is a dessert and nothing else so don't even think about it.

On Monday I had a work dinner at Trulucks- a delicious seafood restaurant that also happens to have one of the best desserts in Austin. (For those of you who are questioning this, I'll have you know it was verified this morning on the radio! See list of best desserts in Austin per 94.7 here) I told everyone ALL day Monday about the chocolate sack and how much I loved it. It is basically a bag made of chocolate and filled with pound cake, fresh berries, whipped cream, and other delicious things. They turn it on its side, cut it open and pour mouth-watering chocolate ganache over the top (feeds like 5 so beware!). DELICIOUS! Unfortunately, I did not get a picture before it was cut, but here is a picture I stole from someone else.

(The waiter said they make the bag look so real by covering a wax paper bag in chocolate and letting it harden. I probably won't be attempting this anytime soon...)

And here I am with some happy coworkers!

And you may notice that this was not our only dessert (disclaimer: there were 8 of us). We also devoured their delicious carrot cake (Also on the top desserts list) and a coffee/chocolate ice cream cake (Named "The brown and white one" by B ), which I snagged a close up of here.

So when the waiter first arrived with the dessert tray he introduced us to the "Chocolate Bag" and it was pointed out (between fits of laughter) that I had been calling it the
"Chocolate sack" all day- which the waiter deemed inapproprtate. Great! I just wanted the chocolate- geez! :)

Have a great Thursday!
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