Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dill and Lemon Chicken Noodle Soup


 My dad recently bought me a new crock pot, this one to be exact, and I LOVE it! One of my favorite things to make in a crock pot is chicken stock. Not many things can make the house smell fabulous with very little effort, but making stock in your crock pot does just that. Whether you have a whole chicken or just some frozen bones you've been saving in the freezer (I can't be the only one that saves a bag of bones in my freezer, right?) you can put together a fabulous stock in minutes. Bones or whole chicken, salt, pepper, carrot, celery, onion, bay leaves, water and parsley stems all come together to make such a versatile stock that can be used immediately, or frozen for later use. 

One thing in particular that I love about this crock pot is the ability to sear or saute on the stove top and then transfer the crock to the base and let it do it's thing while you're gone. This morning I browned my bones and vegetables, seasoned it, added water and put it in the crock until I was ready for it.  When it came time to make dinner, it was so easy to throw together!
Dill and Lemon Chicken Noodle Soup
Adapted from Good Life Eats
serves 4 - 6
1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup white wine
3 carrots, sliced into rounds
6 cups homemade chicken broth
8 oz rotini pasta, uncooked
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon dill
1 large bunch fresh spinach, chopped

Add 1 tablespoon of olive or canola oil in a large crock or soup pot. Saute the onion over medium-high heat until golden and tender. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute more.
Add the white wine and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the broth and carrot. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and lemon together. Add 1 cup of the hot broth very slowly to the egg yolk mixture, whisking as you pour. Then, transfer the mixture to the dutch ovencrock. Stir in the rotini. Continue cooking over medium-low until the pasta and carrots are tender, about 9 minutes. Just before serving, season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the dill, shredded chicken and spinach. Serve immediately.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Austin Bakes for Japan

I volunteered for a wonderful event to raise money for AmeriCares to aid in the relief effort for Japan
The bake sale will be in 5 different locations in Austin on Saturday April 2 starting at 9am  
If you are interested in finding out more about the bake sale or to learn how you can help, go here

Downtown: Woof Gang Bakery, 1204 N. Lamar Blvd. 78703 
East: Nomad Bar, 1213 Corona Drive, 78723 
West: The Shops at Mira Vista (between Keith Kristofer and Collectic), 2785 Bee Cave Road, 78746
Central: Foreign & Domestic, 306 E. 53rd St., 78751
South: Hotel San Jose, 1511 South Congress Ave., 78704

Of course when you think of a bake sale the first thing that comes to mind is cookies, cakes, brownies, cupcakes etc. 
.......of course I can't go that route, that would be expected
I plan to donate:
Cheddar Cheese Dill Bread
Rosemary and Feta Crackers
2 jars Sweet Pickle Relish

I'll be sure to post pictures when I make everything in the hopes of tempting you to go to the nearest bake sale to you and picking up some delicious treats for yourself!

Here's what's on the menu this week:
Monday: Turkey Thyme Mini Meatloaves with Roasted Butternut Squash and Buttered Peas

Wednesday: Taco Pasta- pasta, ground beef, peppers and onions in a creamy taco flavored sauce topped with cheese, lettuce and tomato
                   Apple Chai Spice Coffee Cake- apple cinnamon coffee cake with cardamom and vanilla

Friday: Southwestern Corn Chowder- corn, green chili and potato creamy chowder


Friday, March 25, 2011

Sweet Repeats

Evy's Tree is doing it again! Another adorable giveaway that you can enter to win!
I adore all of her girly, frilly clothes and this one has a pop of color that just screams spring! Go visit her site or facebook page and enter to win!

Last night I hosted bunco and for a sweet treat I tried something a little different, do you remember when I made these for Brianna's Sweet Shop Birthday party?
When I was buying all of the supplies to make them, I bought these thinking they were standard size ice cream cones, then when I opened them at home I realized how small they were and they just wouldn't work but they were already opened and I knew I could think of something to do with them so they didn't go to waste
Well, this Monday on the weekly menu I had these beauties as the dessert and I had all of the centers that I had to remove from the cupcakes to fill them with cookie dough left over along with some extra icing so I made cookie dough flavored cake balls and stuffed them into the mini ice cream cones, dipped them in white chocolate and adorned them with sprinkles!
I just love the way they came out and they truly were delicious! I actually had two people (at different times without hearing each other) request time in a closet by themselves to have a moment with their treat. If that's not a compliment, I don't know what is!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nuts for Nutella

Do you remember these?
The brownie roll out cookies I made for Valentine's Day? 
Well, they were delicious and I was really happy with how they came out for Marshall's teachers and friends at school. After I baked them I couldn't help thinking how good they would be filled with something....jam, marshmallow cream, buttercream or Nutella.
When I made the dough, I split it in half and froze the half I didn't use. Well wrapped, cookie dough can stay stored in the freezer for a couple months and when I defrosted the dough I kneaded it quickly and was ready to roll, cut bake and fill. 
Since two of the people that would be trying these cookies adore Nutella, that's what I went with and I thought they came out delicious!
Since they were so good I used them as bribery. 
It is nearly impossible to get a picture of both of my children together, smiling, looking at the camera and staying still so the picture isn't blurry and now I know how to get them to cooperate, SCORE!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

So Sweet!

I have a small obsession with foodgawker. If you've never checked it out, please do! It is a wealth of  inspiration and I love browsing through the gorgeous photography, coming across a new must try recipe and finding my next favorite foodie to follow. One of the blogs that I found is How Sweet It Is, an awesome blog that frequently has me drooling. What this girl does with cake batter will amaze you!
On foodgawker you are able to mark things as a favorite and save them in your own little "recipe corner" and these were saved in mine. One Bowl Vanilla Cupcakes. Easy with minimal cleanup and producing a small amount to avoid having a dozen cupcakes tempting you from the counter to eat "just one more bite", then feeling guilty about eating your body weight in cake and icing.
Or is that just me?
Anyway, the kids and I were home while Louis was at track practice, and they had behaved so well that day instead of going out for ice cream I decided to let them help me whip these up.
I am just now realizing the irony of the fact that my husband was out running to train for a half ironman triathlon and I'm at home eating cake.
I'm pretty sure I had a lot more fun than he did!
I'm not sure why, but the recipe says that it will make 2 cupcakes and mine made 3. I had a small amount of peanut butter icing in the fridge, so to make enough for all three cupcakes I added a heaping spoonful of Nutella and topped them with shavings of dark chocolate. If you'd like to make these, find the recipe here at How Sweet It Is!
Yum!

On the menu this week:

Monday
 Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya- chicken and andouille sausage in a Louisiana style rice dish, served with a green salad
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes- Chocolate Chip Brown Sugar Cupcakes filled with egg-less cookie dough and topped with cookie dough icing and mini chocolate chips

Wednesday
 Sticky Teriyaki Chicken over Rice with Sesame Soy Roasted Broccoli

Friday
Turkey Parmesan Meatloaf - turkey meatloaf topped with marinara and mozzarella cheese 
served with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Buttered Peas

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Head Chefs Giveaway!

If you haven't visited Emmy's Closet yet, you really should! She is having a fabulous giveaway and the prize will make your time in the kitchen with (or without) kids so much more fun! A set of head chefs utensils!
There are a few different ways to enter her giveaway, and it's open until Wednesday!

Sickies and Sales

This past week was Spring Break and it was not at all what I expected. No crazy parties on the beach, sleeping in late, fun with friends; oh no! My spring break was full of coughs, runny noses and too short naps. One of the worst things about a whole week of your child being sick is that you are stuck in your own house with no one to play with. We all want our children to share, but cold germs is one thing they can keep to themselves. So what do you do with a 4 year old inquisitive little boy who is not sick at all, out of school for the week and ready to have fun and his two year old runny nosed sister?
You get very creative with things around the house
We made play dough and hand prints out of salt dough.
Both of these activities are easy to make with the kids, are made with things around the house and provide hours of fun for the kids, whether they are sick or not!

Play Dough
1 c flour
1 c water
2 teaspoons cream of tarter
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup salt
food coloring
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook over medium high heat until the mixture forms a ball. Remove dough from pot and allow to cool. Once it is cool enough to handle kneed it until it is smooth. Store in an airtight container.
Salt Dough Hand-prints
2 cups of flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water
 
Mix all ingredients well, kneading until smooth. Dough should be pretty stiff, not soft or runny or it will fill with air bubbles when baking. Form dough into a ball, of about what you can enclose in your two hands, and form into a round smooth ball. Using a rolling pin with the dough on wax paper, roll out into as round of a circle as you can. Dough will be about 1/2 inch thick. Press your child's hand with fingers splayed into the dough. Depending on child's age, you will have to help and individually press their fingers. Make sure to press deep enough without going completely to the bottom. (When it bakes it tends to raise the hand print up) Put on a cookie sheet.
Bake at 200 degrees for about 3-5 hours. Dough should be fairly hard but watch to see that it doesn't burn.
Here are Brianna's baking:
This was Marshall's back in 2008

 I also have signed up for a fund-raising bake sale put on by Austin bloggers, businesses and foodies to help the relief efforts in Japan
  If you are interested in getting involved or donating, contact Austin Bakes and join with us to bake some sweets for a very worthy cause. stay tuned for more details coming soon!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Winner Winner Fish Taco Dinner!


I want to thank everyone who voted for me in the Alaska Fish Taco Contest. I got an email today letting me know that because of all of the support from my friends and family, I will be getting one of these in the mail very soon!
I am so excited and I really can't say thank you enough!

And as you all know, you win some, you loose some right?
Well, here's my loss for the week:

Bread and Butter Pickles
 I love the idea of being able to quick pickle vegetables without the hassle of canning, and the sweet and salty combo is my favorite. I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, which is a blog I follow and really love. After salting, brining and allowing the pickles to cool I realized they were incredibly salty. So salty, they were in-edible. Then I went back to the recipe and noticed this........I guess I'll have to try my hand at this again and hope for better results. Do you have a good refrigerator pickling recipe to share?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Blue Cheese and Onion Empanada with Roasted Tomato Soup

Monday I made these amazing empanadas to go with the Roasted Tomato Soup below. I love blue cheese and the caramelized onions and the dried fruit paired perfectly with it. I think next time I make them (yes, there with be a next time very soon) I might add sun dried tomatoes to the mix too!
Caramelized Onion and Blue Cheese Empanadas 

2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds sweet onions, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c chopped prunes
1/4 c chopped dried figs
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 egg
1 wedge gorgonzola cheese
1 pack Goya empanada dough


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a dutch oven heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Add onions, and season with salt and pepper. Turn to low and cook 30-45 minutes until the onions are golden brown. Once onions are caramelized add prunes, figs and balsamic vinegar. Stir together and allow to cool. While the onion mixture is cooling, in a small cup beat the egg and a splash of water. Seperate each dough round and lay out on a large cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Divide the onion mixture evenly between the dough rounds and top with crumbled blue cheese. With a pastry brush brush egg wash around the bottom edge of each dough round. Enclose the filling for each pie and pinch the seams tightly closed Brush the tops with the remaining egg wash and bake for 30 minutes or until evenly browned.

These were so good with the soup, and could easily be made as an appetizer or served with a salad. The Goya empanada dough was in the frozen section at HEB by the frozen rolls and pie shells. If you can't find them you could certainly use refrigerated pie shell dough, just check the box for temperature changes. 

Tonight the voting will end for my "Jerk Fish Taco" on facebook. Will you vote before midnight for me? I hope I can blog some good news tomorrow!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fun in the Extra Long Sun!

Finally, after 6 months, my kitchen clock that is stuck to the wall is telling the right time! I am so glad day light savings time is here and I am really looking forward to the extra time in the evenings of playing outside with the neighborhood kids and walks around the block. We crammed this weekend full of new and exciting things like miniature golf, an outdoor movie night and today I even got to take part in a Thai cooking class. I love Thai food, and even though I got to take containers of food home someone (I won't mention any names) has eaten all of it without sharing, so I have a feeling you may see a Thai dish on next week's menu. Here's what we are having for dinner this week:

Monday
Blue Cheese and Onion Empanada with Roasted Tomato Soup
                  Pear and Almond Muffins
Wednesday
Meatballs and Spaghetti with Cucumber Tomato Salad
 
Friday
Smoked Paprika Sautéed Cod with Goat Cheese Artichoke Strata
I'll be sure to post pictures as I make each dish
There is only three days left to vote in the Alaska Fish Taco Contest on facebook. Please give my "Jerk Fish Taco" a few votes to help me win an iPad!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cucumber Mango Salsa

To go with last night's meal of Pineapple Glazed Pork Chops and Coconut Cilantro Rice I made this fabulously refreshing salsa. I could totally see this on any grilled meat, fish, on tacos or simply served with tortilla chips. It's delicious, a little unexpected and tastes better the longer it marinates...........not that it will be around for long anyway!

Cucumber Mango Salsa
1 mango, diced
1 seedless cucumber, peeled and diced
1 heaping Tablespoon chopped pickled jalapeno
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 Tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lime
1 large handful cilantro leaves, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and allow to chill at least 30 minutes before serving. I love this salsa, but next time I will probably double the jalapeno. If you don't like your food as spicy, use a little less. 

Snacking on this tropical salsa makes me think of Fish Tacos..... How about giving my "Jerk Fish Taco" a couple of votes on facebook?! The contest will be open for 5 more days, and any votes are appreciated!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Mardi Gras Everybody!

Good morning and Happy Mardi Gras to all! Even though I'm not going to any parades today, I'm still very excited. I was asked to be a guest host on one of my very favorite blogs, The Kid Can Cook! This is a blog of my friend Emme's who, with her son X, makes some really amazing food all while keeping it kid friendly. Tying in different books or crafts to a meal can change that "Sam I Am" attitude in a picky toddler, and she does it beautifully. Please check out her blog, her facebook fan page and try some of her fantastic ideas out on your little ones too! So head on over her way and check out the delicious king cake recipe I posted so you can have a little Mardi Gras party of your own!




Monday, March 7, 2011

Happy Lundi Gras

Today is Lundi Gras; the day before Mardi Gras and to celebrate, I made one of our favorite dinners: Red Beans and Rice. It is a delicious homey combo of andouille sausage, red kidney beans and is perfect when served with cornbread. The ingredient list is simple, but the key is the andouille. I really think it is the one thing that can make or break this dish. Every time people come to Austin to visit me they bring andouille since I have not been able to find one that I like in Texas. If anyone knows of a good one, I'd love to hear about it!

Red Beans and Rice

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds andouille sausage, diced
3 onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound dried red kidney beans that have been soaked in cold water over night
2 bay leaves
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

In a large dutch oven heat the oil over medium high heat. Add andouille and cook until brown and crisp. Add onion and celery and saute 5 minutes. Add red beans, bay leaves and 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, partially cover and reduce heat until beans are just at a simmer. Cook for 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add parsley, green onion, salt and pepper and cook for an additional 2 hours. Serve over steamed white rice with cornbread on the side.

The breakfast bread I made this week was Lemon Blueberry Scones. Not overly sweet, but very flaky and a hint of lemon that pairs beautifully with the blueberries. The kids loved them, and I think I'll be playing around with different variations of this. I think a maple flavored scone with crumbled bacon on top might be perfect!

And here it is again...
You knew it was coming, didn't you?
Please vote for my "Jerk Fish Taco" on facebook. There is only 8 more days left of the contest and there is no limit to the amount of votes one person enters (In case you wanted to vote numerous times while watching The Bachelor, The Women Tell All like I'll be doing)
Thanks!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday Funday and Lundi Gras Menu

We have had a wonderful weekend, and I hope you all have enjoyed yours just as much as we have! One of my favorite things about weekends is being able to wind down on a Sunday evening in the backyard with a refreshing drink watching the kids play, and here's what we had today:
An Abita Mardi Gras Bock for the Hubby and an Italian Mango Margarita for me
these are all guesstimates, so make the drink as harmless or potent as you would like:
1/2 cup frozen diced mango
juice of 1 1/2 limes
2 Tablespoons agave nectar
2 shots of silver tequila
1 shot amaretto liqueur
1 cup ice
blend all ingredients until smooth, invite me over and serve immediately

Tomorrow is Lundi Gras, the day before Mardi Gras and I'll be making Red Beans and Rice for a little Louisiana flavor in my Austin TX kitchen!

Here’s what’s on the menu for my meals-to-go for the week:
Monday- Red Beans and Rice with Cornbread- traditional New Orleans Monday meal of red beans and andouille sausage served with rice and cornbread wedges
Blueberry Lemon Scones
Wednesday- Pineapple Glazed Pork Chops with Tropical Salsa and Cilantro Coconut Rice- pork chops marinated in a sweet and savory pineapple glaze, served with a cool tropical salsa and coconut scented rice
Friday: Stuffed Cabbage Soup- everything you love about stuffed cabbage rolls in a bowl
Don’t like to be in the kitchen or too busy to cook? Let me know if you would like to be added to the weekly dinner e mail list. All meals serve two unless otherwise noted, and I am always happy to take special requests and work them into the rotation!
As you all know I am not above begging, so please go vote for my "Jerk Fish Taco" on Facebook to help me win an iPad! It only takes a second and it it greatly appreciated!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Vanilla Kahlua

A couple days ago when I was looking in my spice cabinet I came across some vanilla beans that had fallen in the back and been forgotten about. I could tell they had seen better days since they were dried out and really brittle. I knew I wouldn't be able to scrape the seeds out cleanly but there was no way I could throw them out knowing how pricey they are to begin with.

Coincidentally the very same day while looking through Food & Wine Magazine I came across a recipe for "Homemade Coffee-Flavored Liqueur". Essentially, you make a simple syrup and then add vanilla beans, instant coffee and vodka, allow it to cool and let it steep for a couple weeks before using. I don't know about you, but for me there was no other option for my dry and craggy vanilla beans after seeing this recipe!

It is sitting on my bar right now, and I can't wait until it's ready to try it. I'm thinking Kahlua brownies, White Russians, Kahlua on top of Vanilla Ice Cream...............now I'm not sure how long this bottle will last!
Homemade Coffee-Flavored Liqueur
adapted from Food & Wine Magazine

2 cups water
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup instant coffee granules
1/4 cup instant espresso powder
4 (very dried out) vanilla beans
2 cups vodka

In a medium saucepan bring the water to a boil. Add the sugar, coffee and espresso powder and stir to dissolve. Turn off the heat and add vanilla beans. Let sit, uncovered to cool at least 1 hour. Add vodka and transfer the mixture to a clean bottle or jar. allow to sit at least 3 weeks or up to 6 weeks.


On the Menu this week:

Monday
Caesar Roasted Haddock, Roasted Parmesan Cauliflower and Tossed Green Salad

Maple Oat Banana Muffins

Wednesday

Honey Chipotle Pork Cutlets with Garlic Rice Pilaf and Roasted Butternut Squash

Friday

Feta and Sun-dried Tomato Turkey Meatloaf with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Marinated Cucumber Tomato Salad

Please let me know if you would like to be added to the weekly dinner e mail list!

Lastly, the Alaska Fish Taco contest is still going on, and any votes are appreciated. If you have an extra second on facebook please give my "Jerk Fish Tacos" a couple votes.

Evy's Tree

This is technically a blog all about food, but when there is a chance to win some amazingly cute sweaters, tees, sweatshirts and cardigans embellished to take that every day comfy item and dress it up a bit, I had to share. I've blogged about this before, and now Evy's Tree is doing it again!

Go to their facebook page and share this picture for your chance to win too!