Cooking & Baking

Recipes and other ideas you can do on your own.

Tomato Sammiches

Tomato Sammiches

It’s a little bit late in the season for this post, but I took the photos in early summer and it got me craving one of my favoritest, easiest lunches.

Anyone else love tomato sandwiches?

All you need is the juiciest, freshest tomatoes you can find. Two slices of white bread smothered in mayo. Slice the tomatoes into thick pieces and lay on top of the smothered bread. Sprinkle salt and pepper and, if preferred, add a few fresh basil leaves. That’s it! Enjoy! So yummy and tasty and an easy way to use all those fresh tomatoes from your (or someone you know’s) garden.

tomatoes

No Bake Pastries

No Bake Pastries

I got this idea from a Rachel Ray magazine that focused on breakfast and it was so simple, I’m going to share it with you.

Directions:

Toast English muffins.

Use a cookie cutter to form a shape in one side of each muffin.

Coat the muffin without the cutout with cream cheese and a jam or jelly.

Top it with the cutout piece.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Drizzle with a syrup made of powdered sugar and water or lemon/lime juice.

Enjoy

Warning: Only make as many as you need as these do NOT refrigerate DSC_3946  well.

Chocolat: Means making a lot of chocolate!

Chocolat: Means making a lot of chocolate!

Having been reading “Chocolat”* for about a week now, I knew it was time to actually make some to eat while reading. You can only read about someone opening a chocolate shop for so long before you’re going to get a craving.

*Yes—Like the movie!

I happened to have a stash of chocolate flavored bark coating* (you know, for emergencies), so I decided to make a chocolate bark. I had pistachios and dried cranberries on hand, but you could use plenty of other things in this, such as peanuts, raisins, walnuts, seasonings, orange or lemon rind, crushed peppermint—get crazy!

*I definitely plan to use solid chocolate next time, but this is what I had on hand.

Chocolat Cranberry-Pistachio Bark

8 oz. chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup dried cranberries1/4 cup dried pistachios
Kosher salt

Melt 8 ounces chocolate in a double boiler*. Add butter and melt to thin out the chocolate if needed (never water). Pour into a small baking dish, lightly coated with Pam and cover with parchment, cut to fit. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup whole or crushed pistachios and about 1/4 cup dried cranberries. Sprinkle with Kosher salt. Cool in fridge or freezer until solid. Use the tip of a knife to pry the chocolate from the baking sheet and peel off parchment if it’s stuck. Break into pieces with your hands.

Takes about 15 minutes, plus about 30 minutes to harden.

Tips:

I used my finger to push the pistachios and cranberries into the chocolate a bit so it won’t fall off as much when you are breaking it apart. Use the biggest salt crystals you have on hand for the prettiest look (Which is why I didn’t use sea salt. My sea salt is fine instead of big.)

*I have never owned a double boiler, so the method I’ve always used is to place a pot inside a slightly larger pot. Add a couple inches of water to the bigger pan and bring to a light boil, place smaller pot inside. If the water tries to boil over the side just bring the smaller pot up until the water settles down and turn down the heat. Stir frequently. The double boiler (and self-made double boiler) keeps the chocolate from burning. You could melt in the microwave if you need to, but make sure to only melt for 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time to avoid burning the chocolate.

Now it’s time to curl up with my book and chocolate!

Lump Crab Migas and Bloody Marias

Lump Crab Migas and Bloody Marias

On a quest for the perfect brunch, we have found quite the forerunner: Lump crab migas paired with a bloody maria.

What’s a Bloody Maria, you ask?

A Bloody Maria is a Bloody Mary subbing tequila for the vodka. Seeing that we had recently acquired a free bottle of Real Gusto Blanco Tequila for testing, it just made sense that we’d try this new twist. We did two trials to find the perfect recipe and we’re happy with the final recipe below.

Try this combo for your next brunch with friends.

Bloody Maria

Here’s the basic Bloody Maria recipe. Pour all ingredients into a blender (or Nutribullet) and blend.

  • 2 oz of Real Gusto Tequila Blanco (USDA Organic!)
  • 3 Dashes of Worcesterchire Sauce
  • 3 Dashes of Pepper
  • 3 Dashes of Celery Seeds
  • 3 Dashes of Makrut Lime Sea Salt [Savory Spice]
  • (How to pronounce Worcestershire https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylP_iQvOuaM)
  • 1 Teaspoon Horseradish
  • 6 ounces tomato juice or tomato-vegetable juice cocktail
  • [5 oz of organic strained tamato / tamato sauce plain + 1 oz of water]
  • 1 oz of lime juice or Half a Lime
  • 3 Dashes of Hot Sauce

Rim a pint glass with Makrut Lime Sea Salt. Garnish with Habanero Smoked 16/20 Shrimp, a slice of avocado and a sprig of cilantro.

Migas are one of my favorite things in the world. Other favorites: crab and avocado. So, this recipe has pretty much everything beloved in my life. The seafood migas compliments the Bloody Maria perfectly so that I can’t imagine one without the other.

If you’re not from Austin, let me explain to you the wonderful world of migas. Originally stolen from Mexico and Spain, this Tex Mex favorite has become an Austin staple.

Migas by definition, means crumb—basically made from leftovers, such as tortillas or tortas. In the Tex Mex version, onions, tomatoes and jalapenos are diced and thrown in along with fried tortilla strips and generally served with guacomole, avocados or salsa and smothered with queso or cheese.

Lump Crab with Migas

  • Deshelled Lump Crab ($20/lb.)
  • Pico De Gallo*
  • Scrabbled Eggs
  • Fried tortilla strips
  • Salt + Pepper to Liking

To cook, pour a thin layer of olive oil in a medium-sized pan. Heat on medium high. When hot, add a layer of pico de gallo (about 1/3 cup) to the pan until heated throughout. Meanwhile, whisk five eggs seasoned to liking with pepper and salt, in a bowl. Pour eggs into pan and pour crab and fried tortilla strips over eggs as it begins to settle. Scramble eggs. Under cook eggs by about 2 minutes, add pepper jack cheese slices across the eggs and cover and let melt for 2 minutes.

Garnish with fresh cilantro, avocado and lime.

*We should note that pico de gallo is not the same thing as salsa. Salsa is generally chunky and blended, where as pico de gallo consists of tomato, onion and jalapeños only—very finely chopped. No seasonings, no fanciness, but it’s good stuff.

 

 

This is the perfect end to a long weekend!

Condo update: Kitchen needs

Condo update: Kitchen needs

I’m finally settling into my new condo. I’ve been in it about a month and have already begun baking and cooking again! Just this morning I woke up at 4 a.m. and baked cinnamon rolls for my monthly book club meeting (and then went back to bed for much-needed sleep!).

Now that most of my kitchen supplies have found a home, I’m evaluating what I don’t have. I already made a trip to Crate and Barrel to pick up some plain white bowls for cereal and soup, etc. (4 large, 2 small).

The list of things I’ve come up with that I’m missing in my kitchen (although I’m sure the list will grow) are:

  • wooden spoons
  • cookie sheets (Bought one, could use another)
  • serving spoons
  • turner spatula (for pancakes, etc)
  • colander
  • pie plates (There’s a cute one at Target for $12 I am thinking about)
  • trivets
  • bread basket
  • vase
  • food processor (There’s a nice turquoise Kitchen Aid at Target)
  • cookie jar
  • table cloth
  • pasta maker
  • ramekins
  • pizza pan

I’m trying to keep the list somewhat minimal since I only have so much space, but some things are necessary: like cookie sheets. How can I make people cookies without these?

If there’s something not on the list that you can’t live without in your kitchen, add it in the comments. I may or may not already have it. For instance, I already have the coveted kitchen aid mixer, a wine rack, plenty of bar glasses, and many mixing bowls passed down from my mother.

Also, if you know of a place I should check out to purchase any of the above, please let me know. I typically go to Crate and Barrel or Sur la Table, but am open to places with unique selections. I used to love the kitschy place on Anderson Lane, but am not sure where it moved to.

To new kitchen experiences!

 

 

Pin it. Make it. Eat it.: Ooey Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

Pin it. Make it. Eat it.: Ooey Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

Sometimes you just want a cinnamon roll, but you don’t want it to take all day long to make. Insert this recipe from Crazy for Crust that I found on Pinterest: www.crazyforcrust.com/2014/03/quick-cinnamon-rolls-small-batch/.

In just 45 minutes you can have some yummy to your tummy cinnamon rolls. I love that it only serves six rolls—Just the amount to not get too carried away.

When I went to Texarkana for the week of July 4th, my mom and I were craving a sweet, so we ventured online for a quick recipe. This was the one I thought worked well with our timeframe and the amount we wanted to make. Not to mention a delicious cream cheese frosting recipe! The only thing we changed was adding raisins—you’ve got to add plump raisins!

Although my mom and I took the rolls out just a tad too early at first, we quickly put them back in for a few minutes and enjoyed this recipe so much! So quick, so easy and so delicious!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Easy Strawberry Pie

Easy Strawberry Pie

Here’s a quick idea for a pie if you need a dessert in a pinch. Take a pre-made pie crust (I used a graham cracker crust) and arrange sliced strawberries to cover the bottom of the crust. Whip up some pudding from a box (I used chocolate, but vanilla and other flavors would work, too) and pour over the strawberries while it’s still liquid. Put the pie in the fridge and serve once the pudding has firmed up.

You could also prepare the strawberries to make their sweetness come out by cutting them up, throwing them in a bowl with about 2 teaspoons of vanilla, about 1/4 cup of sugar and sprinkle cinnamon over the top. Stir and let sit for a few hours to let the strawberries soak in the vanilla and sugar and then proceed to the steps above. This is how I prepare my strawberries before serving them in strawberry shortcake.

Easy peasy!

Dinner and a Movie

Dinner and a Movie

This past weekend, I got a chance to hang out with my friend Grace for dinner and a movie. Grace has a projector in her living room and we’ve been talking about having a Shirley Temple movie night for a while. However, she had the BBC version of “Emma,” so being a proper Jane Austen fan, I jumped at the chance to check it out. I had heard it was better than the movie that came out several years ago and was curious if this were true (I didn’t like the movie, so I figured I was hopeful). I’m afraid I can’t give a final review on the BBC version yet, since we’re not through watching it—it’s a whopping 230 minutes long—since I started snoring at some point in the night, most likely induced by the yummy plum wine I had with dinner. But, I can say I’ve enjoyed every minute we’ve watched so far!

Grace was having a salmon craving, and since that is by far my favorite fish, I was pro that idea. She wanted a fish salad, so we took a tour of the Asian market off Braker Lane, which seems to have the freshest fish selection of any of the super markets around. They slice the fish off while you wait. We also picked up some limes, spinach, pineapple and plum wine.

When we got back to her house, we split up duties. She got to pick basil out of the garden and cook the fish, while I was in charge of cooking the pineapple and making a salad dressing out of the limes, orange, basil, honey and olive oil.

It was a fairly quick dinner and turned out splendid! Not only did it taste really good, but it was a colorful salad that surely had lots of vitamins and minerals, too! When’s the last time you enjoyed dinner and a movie?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Brunch at Grace’s

Brunch at Grace’s

In case I haven’t already said it (too many times), I love brunch. Recently, my friends and I have begun enjoying the much cheaper version of brunch at home. Not only is it a more cost effective way to eat brunch, but no one is going to kick you out because there’s a two hour wait outside. Brunch at home allows you to catch up on your own time. I also enjoy watching other people’s cooking process.

Last week, I was invited to yoga with my friend, Grace, and her sister. Since it’s kind of a tradition that we go for brunch after, Grace invited me to her house to have brunch with her siblings (2 of them anyway).

I had never seen an omelet maker, but I really liked the simplicity of it. It doesn’t seem like you have to worry quite so much about flipping it just so to keep all the stuff inside.Of course, I never can decide if a kitchen tool that is specific to making a certain thing is worth it, since you have to find a place to store it and really a pan works just fine, but it did look awfully easy.

I also got a house and garden tour, getting to pull a baby carrot out of Grace’s just-now blossoming garden. Her backyard is just as cozy as can be. Since I’m looking for a house or condo, I’m paying close attention to what makes a home cozy, and Grace has that down completely. From her art studio to her garden, you feel completely at ease just hanging out. I can’t wait to have my only little space so I can reciprocate!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Pin it. Make it. Eat it. — Spinach Rolls

Pin it. Make it. Eat it. — Spinach Rolls

The joke among people on Pinterest is that they pin lots of things, but never actually make any of the things they pin. However, I’m proud to say I take my obsessive pins to the next level by trying to make at least some of them happen.

Since most of my Pin experiments have turned out well, I plan on posting them here and then linking to the recipe so you can try it yourself.

For instance, these Miniature Spinach Parmesan Puffs helped me get rid of fresh spinach I had on hand and tasted delicious. I’d recommend them as an appetizer or for a potluck since they are so quick and easy to make and hold up well even after they come to room temperature.

If you’ve had great success with recipes you’ve pinned, be sure to share them with us! Happy pinning!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.